2015 STUDENT PROJECTS
Students in Tomâ€™s Systems Thinking andÂ Sustainability class chose the following projects to work on over the course of spring semester, 2015. ThisÂ semester the majority of projects emphasized the power of social media and networking,Â and groups approached this from a number of different perspectives.Â
Cool ChoicesÂ Social Media Projects
Cool Choices was created to inspire individuals,Â communities, and small businesses to adopt sustainable practices that reduceÂ greenhouse gas emissions. Cool ChoicesÂ relies on best practices from a variety of social sciences and uses games toÂ bring about behavior change.
We know that employeesâ€”especially younger employeesâ€”want to work for a company that does the right things. And we know that lots ofÂ companies are genuinely engaged in corporate sustainability efforts. How,Â though, are companies communicating their effortsâ€”and the outcomesâ€”to theirÂ employees? Who are the leaders on this? What can other companies learn fromÂ leaders in this realm?
For this project, students researched corporate communication trendsâ€”including the use of social mediaâ€”to understand how companies are communicating their sustainability goals and accomplishments toÂ their employees. The project identifiesÂ best practices and, if possible,Â profiles several companies that are exemplifying those practices and the metricsÂ used to measure success.
In 2015 Cool Choices is launching an expanded platform forÂ game alumni where past participantsÂ can continue to share their successes and collaborate with others on specificÂ projects. For this project, students recommended additions to the game site to make it more attractive for alumni players.Â
Since 2005, Crane has takenÂ the lead in putting the â€œfunâ€ into humidifiers, air purifiers, fans, spaceÂ heating and night lights by following our mantra: Design for Better Living. Crane is aÂ fast growing company of about 15 employees located in Bensenville, ILÂ (just outside of Chicago) that has grown to $30 million in annual revenue byÂ designing products that are functional and efficient, while communicating anÂ appreciation for unique and elegant design.Â
Crane wanted a marketingÂ plan that emphasizes the sustainability of the cool mist ultrasonicÂ humidifiers,Â focusing on new parents who value sustainable productsÂ for their new baby.Â Â The final product addresses social media campaigns, informationÂ and content suggestions for a Corporate Responsibility Page on our website, andÂ creative ideas for displays or handouts at retailers and at shows.Â
Landsâ€™ End is a 46 year old globalÂ retailer based in Wisconsin, offering classically styled American sportswear,Â accessories and Home products for the entire family. Landsâ€™ End employs moreÂ than 7000 people and designs, tests, sells, sources, services, packs, and shipsÂ over 45,000,000 units each year. As a company with a history of innovation,Â they are strongly committed to minimizing their impact on the environment andÂ they are beginning the journey towards sustainability via a focus on product,Â policies and actions.
As members of the Sustainable ApparelÂ Coalition, Landsâ€™ End has access to the online version of the â€˜Higg Indexâ€™; aÂ scoring and evaluation system exclusively for the apparel industry. While Lands’ EndÂ has several of their products and third party sourcing facilities entered andÂ scored in the index, they need to develop a depth of measurement, acceptance,Â and socialization of the system among our product designers and merchants.
The team continued toÂ exercise the Higg Index andÂ provided a plan on how to integrate the ‘Higg Index’ fully into the Landsâ€™ End business model.
PlanÂ and Develop a 2014 Report to the Business Community on SustainabilityÂ Activities in WIÂ
For theÂ last five years, a group of students put together a report on the status ofÂ business sustainability efforts in WIÂ http://www.wisconsinsustainability.com/wi-sustainability-reports/. This annual report is valued by the businessÂ community and other decision makers in the state. Wisconsin is the only state to prepare aÂ triple bottom line sustainability report, modeled on the reports prepared byÂ businesses.Â
The Spring 2015 team decided onÂ the structure and format of the report, including what toÂ include. They chose the metrics thatÂ capture state economics, environmental, and social performance. Â The team designedÂ the layout for the report, developed theÂ appropriate graphics to be included, and wrote the text. that will be used.Â
The Regent MarketÂ Co-op is a small neighborhood grocery store with its own character. The marketÂ is a traditional neighborhood grocery store serving the Regent, Monroe andÂ Vilas neighborhoods. This location has been a grocery store since 1924,Â converting into a grocery cooperative in 1998. It has grown to have ~2000Â members in the neighborhood.Â
In 2015 theÂ Market is planning a major project, including expansion, renovation and theÂ offering of new product lines. While theÂ Co-op has an active customer base, they wish to harness the power of social mediaÂ to engage the neighborhood as they re-launch in our renovated space.Â The market, itsÂ staff and management wish to use social media to engage the community (from the local high school students to the retirees) to ensure an efficientÂ bi-directional flow of information that leads to an enhanced Regent MarketÂ Co-op experience for all.Â
The Board of theÂ Directors of the Regent Market Co-op sought assistance to design a marketing andÂ outreach campaign, heavily focused on social media, to drive increased salesÂ and new membership along with showcasing our commitment to sustainability.
WisconsinÂ Microfinance is a nonprofit organization that funds microfinance loans in HaitiÂ and the Philippines. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, millions of poorÂ people were left with almost nothing to their names. 5 years later, the peopleÂ of Haiti are still poor, and still live with little hope for the future. WIÂ Microfinance provides funds for loans to a single community in Haiti. Even though our work is limited to a single community, there currently is a waiting list for 1000 new loans.
ModelingÂ the success of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference, the WI Microfinance team planned and coordinated aÂ formal dinner gala to raiseÂ money for Wisconsin Microfinanceâ€™s Haiti initiative. Team responsibilities includedÂ planning the event, organizing the event logistics,Â marketing and advertising the event, and overseeing the event.Â