KiriCoin: The New Virtual ”Green” Coin

KiriCoin is the new virtual coin created by Stellantis Group together with the start-up Kiri Technologies to award customers who choose to opt for sustainable mobility through the new electric Fiat 500.

The KiriCoins are assigned to customers that purchase the new electric Fiat 500 and that follow a good driving conduct. Each KiriCoin has a value of €2 cents and can be used in the dedicated marketplace.

Fiat 500 owners will be able to control their balance of KiriCoin anytime on the Fiat app, that will allow them to spend their KiriCoins on several gadgets.

Through the app, KiriCoins owners will be able to purchase discount codes for different products that can be used on the website of the brand for which the discount code has been bought.

Kiri’s goal is to push consumers towards a more sustainable consumption thanks to this reward system. The key concept is that the more kilometres you drive, the more KiriCoins you gain. On average, the gain is of one Kiricoin per kilometer. A software will compute both the number of kilometres driven and the driving style and will finally calculate the number of KiriCoins assigned to the driver. These KiriCoins will then be directly downloaded on the app and will be ready to use.

Moreover, Fiat has thought of more rewards for those customers that will have obtained the best sustainability scores. In the 13 principal European Countries, the customers with the best scores will be able to access prizes offered by partners like Amazon, Apple, Spotify and Zalando.

This kind of initiative and the use of KiriCoins could be extended in the future to other sustainable behaviours like the use of renewable energy and, more in general, the consumption of sustainable products.

The New Age of Fashion: Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

As more attention has been recently drawn to sustainability issues, the fashion industry has come under the spotlight. The industry of fashion represents one of the largest consumer industries and yet it is heavily polluting, creating concern around its practices. Its negative impact on the planet is mainly caused by extensive water use, emissions, use of chemicals and generation and disposal of waste. The fast fashion industry, in particular, creates a lot of waste due to its business model characterized by quicker turnaround of styles, increased number of collections and lower prices. 

During the event “The New Age of Fashion” that was held on the 17th of February organized by BSI and Green Light for Business, the topics of sustainable fashion and greenwashing were discussed. The presence of three guests made us understand better what sustainability in fashion really means and how sustainable brands are created and operate in the fashion sector. 

Armadioverde – Francesco Minghini

The first guest was Francesco Minghini, head of Marketing and Sales for Europe at Armadioverde, the number one fashion recommerce in Italy. Armadioverde was founded in 2015 by two parents as a solution to the concern that their baby was growing faster than his clothes. They opened physical retail shops with the aim of swapping kids garments but they soon noticed that their business model was not scalable. They then transformed Armadioverde to an online platform, today present in Italy and France. The idea behind the fast-growing business is simple but effective. They collect clothes that are not used anymore free of charge and they separate those that are in optimal conditions, which are meant to be sold on their website, to those that are damaged, which are donated to ONG Humana. In exchange, they grant digital “stars”, which can be used to purchase other people’s second-hand clothes on their website. 

Armadioverde is an example of a Circular Economy-based platform that provides an innovative, sustainable alternative that reduces the consumption and environmental impact of fast fashion. As a matter of fact, this industry generates excessive waste since a large amount of clothes is being disposed of before ever being worn out. Armadioverde provides a solution to close the loop and give a second life to used garments and therefore can be considered as an excellent example of business in the sustainable fashion industry. 

Mila.Vert – Tina Logar Bauchmüller

Tina Logar Bauchmüller is the founder and designer of Mila.Vert, a fashion brand that produces timeless and sustainable women’s garments. Tina created the business in 2015 in Slovenia with the aim of making desirable clothing and avoiding the ethical and environmental issues that the fashion industry represents. Her brand is a symbol of empowerment, passion and kindness, which are the values embodied in both the design and production of clothes. As a matter of fact, Mila.Vert produces clothing in collaboration with two family-owned sewing companies and a knitting studio, all located in Slovenia. In this way, they ensure a transparent supply chain that guarantees both ethical and quality standards.

Tina has explained us that their design process is slow and intended to make timeless and quality clothes. They use environmentally friendly fabrics, and they have a limited supply chain. Some garments are partially handmade and all of them are made-to-order, which increases production times (5 to 15 days) but ensures a more sustainable approach to fashion. Other best practices of Mila.Vert include the use of organic cotton that reduces the usage of water, having a custom-fit production to customer’s measurements and producing 100% cruelty-free and PETA-approved clothes. Finally, she has expressed her will to use fabric leftovers to substitute plastic-based packaging.

Wråd – Matteo Ward 

Our last guest was Matteo Ward, Bocconi alumnus and co-founder of Wråd, an innovative start-up and design company dedicated to sustainable innovation and social change. Before co-founding Wråd, Matteo had experience in the world of fashion as District Manager at Abercrombie&Fitch. He is a sustainability advocate in the fashion industry: he is member of an advisory board at United Nations and member of Fashion Revolution Education team and Fashion Revolution Italy. Moreover, he is also a Ted and Keynote speaker.

Matteo has talked about greenwashing, which is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing deceives consumers into thinking that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or that follow sustainable standards. Nowadays greenwashing has become common practice in many companies, and for this reason it is important to understand the red flags that indicate greenwashing. In particular, some signals might be vagueness in language and wording, having too many visuals that refer extremely to greenery, promoting lies and unsubstantiated environmental claims and trading off benefits against some other bad practices. Although improvements in sustainability in fashion, Matteo believes that there is still a long way to go until the fashion industry can finally claim the sustainability card.

The Sustainable Age

As the long-used industrial model of “take, make and waste” based on linearity is no longer viable because of natural resources scarcity and increase in industrial waste, a new solution has to be found in the fashion industry. New models based on circularity have started to emerge and reusing and recycling garments is becoming a widespread practice. Moreover, consumers need to be reeducated to reduce consumption and source more ethical clothes. Fashion claims for a new age: the sustainable age.

SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS

5 Ideas for an Ecological and Ethical Christmas Shopping

With Christmas approaching, the season of holiday gifts has begun. Finding the perfect gift for everyone takes time and effort and usually it results in excess consumption. So why not buying sustainable gifts this year? Giving a thoughtful present while helping the environment and communities is possible. Before buying anything this year, try to ask yourself three fundamental questions. 

1. Who made the product? Try to purchase from environmentally conscious companies that make sustainability one of their key pillars. Particularly this year, consider privileging small businesses to support them during difficult times. 

2. Where is it produced/sold? Consider buying from local producers. Check where is the product shipped from and try to minimize transportation to reduce the carbon footprint. 

3. What is the product made of? Materials and ingredients are very important. Choose recyclable and healthy products and try to avoid polluting materials such as plastic! 

With these questions in mind, we have compiled a list of five ideas to have a sustainable Christmas. 

1. Reusable Water Bottle

Photo by Gabriel Peter on Pexels.com

Reusable water bottles are a perfect gift for environmentally conscious people. They are cheaper, safer and more sustainable than disposable ones. With reusable bottles it is possible to decrease carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere, as well as landfill waste and ocean pollution. Try to privilege stainless steel or glass over plastic bottles, since they are BPA free and more durable. A valid option is purchasing from 24 Bottles, an Italian sustainability-driven company that sells zero emissions reusable bottles. 

2. Handmade Soap and Natural Candles

Photo by Tabitha Mort on Pexels.com

Choose handmade over industrial products! Handmade products avoid chemical additives and overpackaging and are overall more sustainable. Two perfect Christmas gifts are biological artisanal soaps and organic and natural candles.

3. Gift a Tree!

Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Be original and gift a tree this Christmas. Platforms like Treedom offer the possibility to gift trees to loved ones. Why is it a perfect gift? Planting trees has a positive impact on the environment; they filter the air we breathe, produce oxygen, and remove carbon and harmful particles from the atmosphere. Moreover, it’s unique and greatly appreciated.

4. Local Desserts

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

Every country or region has its Christmas specialty, and everyone loves desserts! If you live in Italy, consider gifting a panettone or any typical delicacy that your city has to offer. In this way you will help local businesses and support the production of healthier products.

5. Ethical and Durable Clothes

Photo by William Matte on Pexels.com

Sustainability in the fashion industry is a critical issue, so this Christmas try to avoid buying clothes or accessories from fast fashion companies. Before making a purchase, research companies’ values and choose the ones that believe in sustainability, like Patagonia or Toms. Always check the textile composition and privilege organic cotton and/or recycled fabrics. An alternative is buying vintage or upcycled clothes. The East Market in Milan has recently launched an online marketplace for its vintage finds. 

This Christmas be kind to the planet and give back to your local community. And whatever gift you choose, don’t forget to wrap it with sustainable wrapping paper!

Disclaimer: all links provided in the article are not sponsored or affiliated with BSI in any way

CAN WE CREATE VALUE THROUGH SUSTAINABILITY?

The added value of circular economy and financial education

On Tuesday 10th November some BSI members were invited as guest to the event entitled  “Can we create value through sustainability?” which focused on ESG and financial education, organized by Demetra, a non-profit organization that aims to support start-ups and  aids business men and women in getting into contact with third parties, such as investors and consultants, to upscale their projects and entrepreneurial ideas, Cultura Italiae Young, a platform that aims to provide a concrete contribution to the creation of a common and shared space for cultural projects, but not only, Women In Business and Finance (WIBF), an association that promotes leadership and empowerment in women in jobs and aims at providing women with the tools for professional and personal fulfillment, and Network of Innovation Management and Strategy (NIMS),  an international network, of which BSI is a proud member, that gathers like-minded students in the field of innovation management and strategy in the organization of career and job-oriented events to promote innovation on a 360 degree view .

During the event, guests from the education, private equity, chemical and start-up sectors, touched various topics such as the importance of financial education, the transition to a green economy, and the financial implications of such change.

Why is financial education so important?

Financial education is one of many steps that will allow modern society to reaching the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and it is particularly effective when focusing on goal 5 that tackles the issue of gender inequality. Many organizations around the words are working towards providing financial education for economically and socially fragile members of society, such as women and youth that unfortunately are often deprived of the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and tools to reach financial and social independence and empowerment.

Financial education is a fundamental part of the greater effort to eliminate inequalities and discrimination: it provides more vulnerable members of society with the means to make informed and independent choices in both a professional and an everyday setting and it allows the spread of the concepts of diversity and inclusion throughout society and firms.

Paying attention to the younger portion of the population is decisive when talking about financial education. Intergenerational transfer of knowledge between parents and children and between older and younger students is of primary importance to provide younger generations the tools to understand the rights they are entitled to, and for which they have to fight for (e.g. climate justice), their responsibility and duties.

Associations around the world, including the ones attending the event, are engaged in creating platforms and ways to provide financial literacy starting from a really young age, for instance with projects targeted at children aged four to eight, with the intent of developing a more constructive and supportive learning system.

Digitalization has become the core strategy for many associations around the world at the forefront of the fight against economic and educational poverty, including corruption and fraud. Some fin-tech observatories have been setup in Italy and around the world using Artificial Intelligence in a more positive and useful way to collect and share data (for instance on non-drug related addictions such as compulsive gambling) as a tool that allows the elimination of those distortions that a unethical use of AI may cause.

It is necessary for financial innovation to be sustainable: we must break the paradigm that sustainability is not efficient and that it cannot provide return for investors.

Shifting to a greener economy

First of all, what is circular economy?

“Circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible”

Now that we have a clear understanding of what circular economy is, let’s try to focus on why “moving to a greener and circular economy” is a widely shared and common affirmation among experts in both corporates and start-ups, but also among the general public (e.g. Fridays for Future). There is evidence of the increase of consciousness on topics of ESG from the side of consumers in terms of more responsible and aware purchasing and consumption (consuming less and better).

For these reasons, a linear model based on consumption and waste (burned or, in the best-case scenario, recycled), as opposed to a circular model, is not a viable solution anymore

Sustainability and profitability are not to be considered separately. On the one hand, those firms that will innovate in a sustainable manner will be able to stay competitive and thrive on the market. On the other hand, those firms that will neglect the environmental impact of their activity will sooner or later be kicked out of the market because of economic reasons (aware consumers will not buy harmful goods for the environment and for their personal well-being) and a technological and methodological reason (the sooner firms innovate, the bigger the advantage in the future)

Clear demonstrations of how this trend is changing the way of doing business can be seen both in the startup and corporate sector. Startups creating fabric for the fashion industry from by-products of citrus fruits and chemical giants investing in the transition towards green chemistry are both clear examples of how many companies are putting a huge effort into decarbonizing some of the most polluting industries in the world.

Then, the question you might be asking yourself now is: why is the transition to a greener economy so slow? Is there a lack of finances or a lack of ideas?

Transition is not as fast as we would all hope because of different reasons:

  • In the chemical industry, for instance, the main issue is linked to the fact that the sector is traditionally “conservative”, characterized by a high entry barrier and a slow innovation process
  • In startups, in universities and in research centers there is an abundance of valid projects, however there is a very limited tech transfer. In many cases valuable ideas don’t turn into marketable solutions because a holistic approach is missing. 

Summing up, financial recourses are available, both from private and publics investors, and valid projects are not scarce, but there is a very limited exchange of information. This is why there is a need to create an integrated model, with the help of public institutions, to match the know-how and recourses of well-established firms, and innovation projects from universities and startups.

Private equity funds and circularity

The growing attention to sustainability has led to the creation of revolutionizing private equity funds that evaluate managers’ performances on the level of circularity of their work with certified indicators and parameters that are more easily measurable compared to ESG indicators.

This is an example of how the international community is understanding the importance of shifting towards a green approach to investment, and that investments in sustainability can create value for both shareholders and stakeholders

So, can we really create value through sustainability? The answer is YES! Through a collaborative effort we, as students, as entrepreneurs, as managers, … , as members of a rapidly changing society can shift towards a greener economy that will guarantee a sustainable future in terms of environmental wellbeing (e.g. better air quality) and in terms of economic prospective (e.g. new marketable ideas and jobs).

by Lorenzo Samperi

TECH GIANTS FACE CONGRESS: ARE WE CLOSER TO MORE REGULATION?

On July 29th the leaders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google (namely Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai) were summoned to Washington to testify at the US House of Representatives’ Antitrust Subcommittee. There, Democrats and Republicans confronted the executives for using their market power to crush competitors and to gain sky-high profits, data and customers.

The main goal of the hearing was to determine whether the companies have too much market power. To do so, the subcommittee members presented millions of documents, including some once private messages and emails of the CEOs, which highlight how the tech companies have become too big and powerful, how they threaten rivals, consumers and, in some cases, even democracy itself.

The heads of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google weren’t completely prepared for serious, on-topic questions about their operations. Let’s see more in detail which questions were asked to each CEO.

Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook was accused of using data collected on the AppStore to see which are the most downloaded apps. After doing so, Apple creates a new app which is nearly identical and eventually, deletes the competitor app from the AppStore to get more downloads.

Google

Among the several questions asked to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, the most relevant ones regard the manipulation of the research results on Google. Google is accused of showing Google’s partners’ websites as first results. Furthermore, Google was said to be guilty of stealing content from other websites. This is what happened with Yelp, whose restaurant reviews were ”stolen” from Google. As soon as Yelp complained, Google threatened to no longer show Yelp in its search results.

Sundar Pichai was also asked about the control that users have over the use of their information, given the fact that users have no choice in sharing their personal data, just like with Facebook.

Amazon

The main allegation to Amazon is having so much market share (47% of US e-commerce) to force any seller to sell through its portal. Thanks to its power, Amazon can force small suppliers out of businesses by making similar products cheaper than they could. Bezos said that this behavior is against Amazon’s policy, but he also said he could not guarantee that the policy had not been violated.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg was questioned about its apparent support of disinformation as a way to make money, but the main line of attack against Facebook was highlighting the wat it has bought rivals to secure market dominance, for example WhatsApp and Instagram.

The ultimate goal of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust is producing new antitrust legislation, which is obviously not good news for the tech giants. The hearing marked a significant milestone for the House’s investigation, but we are still far from the finale. The next step will probably be the Subcommittee’s final report, which will be released sometime in August or September. 

Do you think Big Tech companies have become too powerful and should be broken up? Let us know in the comments.

Martina Mascaro

Micro mobility and sharing economy – Google updates that you might find helpful

Living in a big city can be quite stressful as population grows at a faster rate and the need to move residents through existing transportation networks becomes more pressing. 

In this dynamic world, micro mobility and sharing services have the potential to better connect people with public transit, reduce reliance on private cars, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the first companies who has recognized this potential is Google. In fact it has launched a new feature within the navigation app that is very helpful when choosing the right combination of transport to get to a place as quickly as possible.

The new feature allows users to combine several modes of transport, including ridesharing and cycling.

When using Google Maps, you’ll see how to reach your destination by only using public transportation just like before, but you’ll also see options that add in ridesharing and biking in a Mixed Modes section. If you pick a ridesharing route, you will also be given information about the cost of the ride, traffic and expected waiting time. You can also choose your favorite provider.

If you prefer biking, the app can suggest specific cycling routes or the closest bus stop that you can reach by bike to save time. 

Google maps also has an option for people who prefer scooters. One year ago, Lime and google Maps teamed up extending the reach of micro mobility to one of the world’s most popular GPS mapping services. In cities where Lime operates, riders are able to locate nearby Lime scooters, pedal bikes and e-assist bikes directly from Google Maps.

The group who will benefit the most from this update is commuters: data reports that in big cities the use of electric scooters reduces commuting time by more than 10 minutes.

Another important feature is the one displaying crowdedness predictions, which is extremely relevant since keeping distance is very important nowadays and excessive crowdedness might prevent us from being able to use public transportation. 

Further possibilities that are likely to become reality in the future are options based on speed, price and carbon footprint.

Google is not the only company trying to appeal transit riders: Uber, Bolt and Citymapper are other tech giants involved in the same activity. However Google is strategically well positioned, even though it is not a transport operator, thanks to the data and the resources it disposes of.

The new features are constantly being updated in order to face the society’s developing need for convenient, quick and environmentally friendly ways of taking journeys across city centers. The increasing visibility of scooters alongside cycling and other transit options in Google Maps will certainly encourage more active and sustainable ways to travel and shows how society is rapidly shifting its preferences on transportation.

Martina Mascaro