Archive for October, 2010

CBSR Summit 2010

October 28, 2010

I spent last week in Toronto, ON attending the 8th Annual Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) Summit on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The theme for the event was “Collaborating for Sustainable Change”.

A business case for social responsibility

I participated in a workshop prior to the all day summit focused on creating a Business Case for Social Responsibility. After all, if there’s to be meaningful change on the sustainability/CSR front, there needs to be something in it for the business sector.

As it was explained in the workshop, the economic capital of a business is a product of two things, Natural Capital and Human & Social capital. It is the combination of these attributes that creates meaningful value for a business. It’s been shown that the exploration and use of natural capital is a viable way to turn a profit. However, as natural resources decline, the focus seems to, and needs to, turn towards how we can improve the human and social capital within a business.

To this end, educating your workforce and hiring experienced personnel is a good step, and something that’s applied across the board. But what if integrating CSR practices could increase human and social capital and, in turn, make your business more profitable?

In a study conducted by CBSR and Hewitt, it was shown that the more employees believe their companies are socially and environmentally responsible, the more engaged they are at the workplace. A more engaged workforce leads to significantly less absenteeism, employee turnover, theft, and safety incidents. On the flip side, significant increases in customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability!

If you aren’t already sold on the idea, let’s think briefly about growing your business in the long run. In order to grow, businesses need to attract investors to help them achieve desired goals. Now, more than ever, investors are paying attention to greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage as a measure of the long term stability of a company. One such group of investors has created the Carbon Disclosure Project, representing 534 institutional investors, with a combined $64 trillion in assets. With this kind of financial big-hitter paying attention to environmental and related CSR practices, no wonder so many companies are here this week to learn what they can do to integrate CSR into their own operations.

Dealing with Compost Fruit Flies

October 18, 2010

Flickr / upyernoz

If you have a worm compost bin at work, you’ll likely have a fruit fly outbreak at some point. Your colleagues are going to hate it, and you’re going to feel bad because you’re the one that brought the worms and subsequent fruit flies into the office in the first place…

So, here are some suggestions for preventing fruit flies to begin with. And in case these don’t work, we’ve added a few tips below for how to deal with fruit flies that do emerge. We’re happy to report that all this advice has been field tested at Fairware with great success.


1. Don’t overfeed the binCity Farmer suggests adding food scraps to the bin once a week, placing the scraps in a different corner of the bin each time. A single feeding of the bin helps you keep track of how much you’re feeding the worms, which for a small bin like ours should be about 1L of waste per week. If you find that food scraps from the previous week haven’t been consumed, don’t add more. You want the waste consumed so fruit flies don’t lay their eggs in it.

2. Cover the food waste well – When you add the scraps to the bin ensure that the food is well covered by the upper straw/newspaper layer. Again, this helps prevent fruit flies from laying eggs in the waste.

3. Store up food waste in the fridge – Keep a receptacle in the fridge where you and your co-workers can store up food waste through the week. Fruit flies will attack anything left on the counter, even if it seems to be in a well-sealed container. Here’s a picture of the the Fairware worm food storage container:

Fairware's worm food collection

4. Chop up the food waste – Before feeding the food scraps to the worms, use a knife to cut it up in small pieces. This increases the surface area on which the worms can attack the food. Here’s an example of some of my fine chopping:

Food waste chopped into worm bite-size pieces

5. Stay away from citrus and banana peels or wash them well – Fruit flies love laying their eggs in fruit peels and sometimes they’re already in there before you place the peels in the bin. Rinsing peels before adding them to the bin can help prevent an outbreak.


1. Poison them – Here’s a recipe we’ve found effective (courtesy of City Farmer)

  • ½ cup fruit juice
  • 2 drops of vinegar
  • 2 drops of liquid dish soap
  • divide the mix between a few small cups and place them in areas where the fruit flies are found most

2. Cover the bin opening with a damp towel – By sealing off the opening of the bin for a day or so, we’ve found the fruit flies aren’t able to escape the bin and seem to die down in the process. But don’t leave the bin covered for more than a day or two, as it reduces the amount of air getting to the worms.

3. Stop feeding the bin for a while – Just stop putting food in it until the fruit flies disappear.


We’re still learning and are keen to find out new ideas for avoiding or dealing with fruit flies. Share your suggestions in the comments below.


Bike Lanes Make Me Hornby

October 12, 2010

Here in Vancouver there has been a big push to create a network of separated bike lanes in the city.  While throngs of us are thrilled at the prospect of a city that  builds infrastructure to support bikes, buses, pedestrians and cars – a lot of folks have their knickers in a knot over it. The latest street to get a dedicated bike lane is Hornby Street.

We like to ride our bikes here at Fairware and we like to be safe doing it. So, in the spirit of supporting the latest decision to create a separated bike route in Vancouver’s downtown core, we’re doing a limited run of  “Bike Lanes Make Me Hornby” T-shirts. The tees have the pithy statement and bike stencil on the front, Vision Vancouver logo on the sleeve.

Interested in a t-shirt? We’ll be selling shirts and taking orders at the upcoming Vision Vancouver Pub Night on October 20th,  “The Charles” bar at 136 Cordova St. (Near the Corner of Cordova and Cambie St.) We’ll have shirts ready for pick up at the October 20th event as well as an order form (in the case we run out of our first print run). Or you can contact Tim Chipperfield directly at to place your orders.


100% Organic T-shirt;

Men’s Sm-XL; Women’s Sm-XL;

Cost $15 including tax.

Please include your name; email and size when you contact Tim. Shirts are available for pick up only @ the Vision Offices or at Pub Night on October 20th,  “The Charles” bar at 136 Cordova St (Near the Corner of Cordova and Cambie St.).

Contact Tim Chipperfield directly at to place your orders.

Case Study: Aveda Earth Month Online Ordering

October 5, 2010


Aveda, The Art and Science of Pure Flower and Plant Essences™, was founded in 1978 with the goal of providing beauty industry professionals with high performance, botanically based products that would be better for service providers and their guests, as well as for the planet.


Earth Month – Each April the Aveda network raises funds for grassroots organizations that address global environmental issues. Since 1999, Aveda has raised over $11 million for their partner organizations. This year the focus was access to clean drinking water.

Client Request:

Aveda approached Fairware to quote on Earth Month promotional products that could be sold as fundraisers in Aveda salons and spas. They wanted stylish, quality products that aligned with the Aveda brand and had designed some amazing graphics that advocated a message of access to clean drinking water for all.

Fairware Approach:

1. Product Selection: Fairware sourced stainless steel water bottles and recycled steel I.D. tags adorned with Aveda’s “1 in 7 lacks access to clean water” graphic pictured above. These products looked amazing and were sure to be a hit.

2. Online Ordering Form: We coordinated ordering from salons and spas across North America (plus a few in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taiwan) through an online ordering form that featured upfront payment and shipping and billing information capture. This saved Aveda head office from coordinating the delivery of product to many different salon locations and did away with invoicing and collection efforts.

3. Program Promotion: Fairware created a multi-message e-reminder campaign to raise awareness among Aveda salons and spas of the program. We also updated these contacts on upcoming deadlines and delivery dates.

4. Customer Service: At any time through the ordering and production process, Aveda salon and spa representatives could contact a knowledgeable Fairware representative via a 1-800 number or email address.

5. Reporting: Through out the program we provided regular reports to our Aveda Head Office contacts to keep them updated on order numbers and progress.

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