The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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The Transvida Cooperative

This article on the RioOnWatch site really caught my attention. It shows how even the poorest communities can benefit by forming a cooperative.

Cooperativa Transvida Promotes Recycling and Environmental Awareness

In 2011, then engaged in various projects through her church, Oliveira saw a group of residents picking through trash in the community in search of recyclable material. Looking for a way to help them, she ended up proposing: “Guys, don’t you want to form a cooperative?”

In the beginning, nobody knew anything. We only knew how to separate the trash and assess the value of the different types of material,” says Rozeno. “In fact, the only things we were missing were organization and administration.” Thanks to Oliveira’s volunteer-help in developing the administrative side of the organization, the Transvida Recycling Cooperative was able to begin its journey, with four volunteers and about 20 trash collectors.

…despite it being a tiring job, “people are learning how to sort waste, learning how to take care of the environment.” Residents talk to one another about the positive results of the cooperative’s work, and “this is opening minds in our community,” concludes Rozena. So, in addition to bringing in income for trash collectors and their families, Transvida promotes environmental awareness, especially in relation to waste treatment within the community.

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Coop Helps Improve Environment

Some of you may have already heard of Fertile Ground out of Oklahoma. I feel like I’ve come across that name before. In any case the company came up in my news feed when an Oklahoma City station aired a segment about them. It seems the company that had been contracted by three local cities to recycle their waste announced they would no longer be accepting glass.

Fertile Ground Cooperative stepped in to see what they could do.

As an environmental co-op, Fertile Ground worked to cut out that corporate middleman.

“We were able to find a solution where we can immediately start recycling glass, right here in Oklahoma, with an Oklahoma-based company,” Singer said.

I found the idea of an environmental co-op intriguing and went to their website to learn more about Fertile Ground. Not only was the business established to improve and protect the social and natural environment, but they structured their organization as a cooperative toward that goal.


A worker cooperative is a values-driven business that puts worker and community benefit at the core of its purpose. The central characteristics are that workers own the business and participate in its financial success on the basis of their labor contribution to the co-op, and that workers have representation on and vote for the board of directors, adhering to the principle of one worker, one vote.

Worker-Owners enjoy work because they have control over the conditions of their labor.  Because worker-coops are locally owned, workers don’t pollute their own backyards, they are more inclined to pay themselves fairly, take care of their safety, and contribute to the local economy.  Worker co-ops are also more productive than traditional workplaces because workers have greater buy-in and receive a portion of the surplus (profit).

We love worker co-ops because they can be a tool to empower people who are locked out of the mainstream economy.  Checkout for more info about worker co-ops!

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Aluminum Manufacturer “Goes Green”

Aleris Corporation is an innovator in “going green” in the aluminum manufacturing industry.  In his interview with Kathleen Hoffelder of CFO magazine, Sean Stack, executive vice president and CFO of Aleris, talks about the company’s manufacturing model and how it works with customers to promote its aluminum sustainability efforts.

Aleris Corp., a privately-held aluminum manufacturer based in Cleveland, has two global business units: selling aluminum plate, sheet and coated products and aluminum recycling. The manufacturer, created by the joining of two $1 billion companies, Commonwealth Industries and IMCO Recycling, that performed those tasks independently, has now grown into a $4.5 billion company with more than 40 production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia. Continue reading

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Vancouver Colleges New Program Recycles Organic Waste

Jaqueline Wong reports on a new recycling program at Vancouver Community College’s culinary programs and campus cafes that reduces organic wastes ending up in landfills.

Food scraps and expired products are now being collected and transferred to a ranch near Lytton, 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, by the B.C.-owned Northwest Organics, said Wendy Avis, VCC manager, environment and sustainability.
The recycling program started in April.
VCC is now promoting the program at its two campuses.
‘We will collect compost and combine it with the organic wastes.’ Avis said.
Since 2010, VCC has been carbon neutral. No bottled water has been sold at its campuses since 2012 and around 1,300 gallons of organic waste from the schools is diverted from landfills weekly. It has also been exploring ways to grow organic food on campus. Continue reading

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Sustainability Drives Innovation

Here are some fine recent examples of product and service innovations that incorporate sustainability.

  • Replenish. Most household cleaners consist of a disposable plastic bottle, a detergent and a lot of water. Shipping a product which is 90% water through retail stores does not make a lot of sense. Replenish is an innovative reusable cleaning product. You simply buy a detergent refill and add water.
  • Shwopping. Marks and Spencer launched a project which aims to reduce the volume of clothes that are thrown away to landfill, whilst supporting the charity Oxfam. Customers can bring unwanted pieces of clothing and place them in bins known as ‘Shwop Drops’. The clothes are then given to Oxfam to re-use, recycle or re-sell. In the last year some 4 million items have been Shwopped in over 400 M&S and Oxfam stores. This has helped Oxfam raise £2.3 million for its many good causes.
  • Sustainability is a Driver of InnovationNewlife Paints. What do you do with your unfinished tins of paint? The average household in the UK has 17 tins of partly used paint. These tins typically reside in the garage until they are eventually taken to the tip and then into landfill. Chemist, Keith Harrison, decided to do something about this environmental nightmare by creating Newlife Paints which collects and recycles tins of paint – repackaging them and selling them in a range of 32 colours.

Sustainability is more than just recycling. It is about creative design in products and processes that encourage and reward good behaviour by consumers. And the consumers seem to like it.

With thanks to Chris Sherwin of Seymourpowell for pointing out these examples.

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