Despite the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, there’s a lot you don’t know about that T-shirt

An ambitious effort by a global apparel industry group to measure the social and environmental impact of making clothes and shoes has yet to deliver on its promise

From the cotton farm to the clothing factory to the fashion show, the global apparel industry has more than its share of social and environmental problems.

Behind the images of beauty and style is an often dirty business that relies on water-intensive methods and toxic chemicals in its factories, most of them in poor countries and hidden from view. While garment work has provided a pathway out of poverty – now in China, but earlier in the US and UK – no worker should be exposed to the unsafe conditions that led to calamities like in Bangladesh, where in 2013 the collapse of the structurally unsafe Rana Plaza building killed more than 1,100 workers.

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Spreading the wealth: the US businesses sharing ownership with their employees

The worker-ownership movement is growing, and its supporters believe it could help address inequality and improve productivity in the US

Kim Jordan, the co-founder of the New Belgium Brewing Company, had big news to deliver to the Colorado brewery’s 450 employees at their 2013 winter retreat. She told them that the company had been sold, and asked them to open the envelopes placed on their chairs to learn the identity of the new owner. Inside each envelope was a mirror.

Related: Can this job initiative help young people with autism beat unemployment?

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New Crop – the vegan venture fund fighting for animal rights

A collective of animal welfare activists are gaining ground with an investment fund that supports businesses developing alternatives to meat, cheese and other animal products

Most investment funds are, first and foremost, about making money. Not New Crop Capital, a venture capital fund started by animal-welfare activists to support entrepreneurs whose products will save the lives of cows, pigs, chickens and fish.

Launched last fall, New Crop has raised $25m and is investing in companies like Beyond Meat, which makes plant-based substitutes for burgers and chicken, and Purple Carrot, a startup that home delivers vegan meal kits. The money comes from an investor who wishes to remain anonymous.

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New Crop – the vegan venture fund fighting for animal rights

A collective of animal welfare activists are gaining ground with an investment fund that supports businesses developing alternatives to meat, cheese and other animal products

Most investment funds are, first and foremost, about making money. Not New Crop Capital, a venture capital fund started by animal-welfare activists to support entrepreneurs whose products will save the lives of cows, pigs, chickens and fish.

Launched last fall, New Crop has raised $25m and is investing in companies like Beyond Meat, which makes plant-based substitutes for burgers and chicken, and Purple Carrot, a startup that home delivers vegan meal kits. The money comes from an investor who wishes to remain anonymous.

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Can Amazon’s new ‘dream team’ fix the company’s sustainability reputation?

Unlike most big companies, Amazon has never published a sustainability report. Recent hires suggest that may be about to change – but will the retailer play ball?

Amazon has a reputation for forward thinking, but when it comes to sustainability, the company has often fallen behind the times. For years, it has weathered criticism over its worker treatment, recycling and other sustainability metrics.

Recently, however, the online retailer has signaled that a change may be on the way. Dara O’Rourke, a leading expert on global supply chains, has joined the company’s sustainability team.

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CEO of Kind bars plays nice while fighting for new food label rules

Daniel Lubetzky, who was a social activist before starting Kind, says his government petition to use the word “healthy” is about righting a wrong

Nine months ago, the US Food and Drug administration accused Kind, the snack-bar maker, of breaking the law by describing its bars containing fatty nuts as “healthy”. Fighting back, Kind charged that the FDA’s rules are wrongheaded and outdated.

At the center of this battle with government regulators is Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of Kind, who tries to live up to his company’s name even when he’s talking about a foe.

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Can B Corp be the next Fair Trade for socially-minded corporations?

B Corp, a certification for business that undertakes environmental and other sustainability efforts, is starting to attract larger, public companies. But some roadblocks still remain

The B Corporation movement, which certifies companies that benefit society as well as their owners, is gaining momentum. Last month, Laureate Education, a global education company with $4.5bn in annual revenues, became the largest certified B Corp, joining Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Seventh Generation and Warby Parker, among many others.

B Lab, the nonprofit that administers the B Corp certification, is also raising its own profile, with plans to help launch a media company that will spread the word about the movement. B the Change Media, which recently raised $2m in startup capital, will launch a quarterly print magazine and website this summer, and plans to organize events for socially and environmentally responsible firms.

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Why the egg industry is scrambling to set hens free

Governments, activists and big brands like McDonald’s and Nestle are putting increased pressure on egg producers to raise their hens more sustainably

Americans eat about 265 eggs per person per year, according to the American Egg Board, and roughly nine in 10 are laid by hens confined in cages with little room to move.

That’s changing. McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, General Mills and Nestle all said this fall they are gradually switching to cage-free eggs in the US. Consumers are buying more cage-free and organic eggs. Laws in five states, including California, ban caged hens.

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Where’s the science? Businesses aren’t setting the right climate targets to make a difference

Can the Science Based Targets initiative push companies to do better when it comes to meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets?

As the UN climate meetings in Paris come to an end this week, diplomats from around the world are under pressure to reach an agreement that would reflect the plans they presented to cut their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. These voluntary plans include targets and starting points set by each government. The US vows to cut emissions by 26% below 2005 levels by 2025; the EU by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030; and China will starting reducing in 2030.

If this sounds familiar, it should: big companies have been promising to cut their carbon output for a decade or more, setting targets and timelines of their own choosing.

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