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Raise the Green Bar logo imageRaise the Green Bar is an annual sustainability event hosted by MADE SAFE and Good Housekeeping. The event, usually held live at the LEED-certified Hearst Tower in midtown Manhattan, went virtual this year to thousands of viewers.


The day is known for being packed with information geared to sustainability insiders, stories of innovation and collaboration to achieve game-changing results that can catapult us into a sustainable future. The event has a reputation of delivering sobering science and inspirational accounts of achievement and activism, offering ways we can each – in our respective professions and personal lives – work toward the collective goal of sustainability.

This year the conversation touched all the bases as we hosted the summit amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, making it ever-pressing we address the issues before us. Here’s a little bit about the day. For more about the event you can read the Good Housekeeping magazine recap.

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SPEAKERS

The Future of Health Dr. Leo Trasande, Amy Ziff
Corporate Sustainability Today John Melo
Green Catalysts: Leadership in the “New Normal”Daya Fields; Moderated by Kate Black
Fireside Chat Lauren Conrad, Julee Wilson
A Carbon Neutral Future Austin Whitman; Moderated by Tolu Olubunmi
Sustainability Start-Ups Bring It Home John Mascari, Hillary Peterson, Coulter Lewis; Moderated by Samantha Harris
MADE SAFE AnnouncementAmy Ziff
The Making of Kiss the Ground Josh and Rebecca Tickell; Moderated by Ayana Johnson
Greener Plates for a Better World Mark Bittman, Kathleen Finlay, Tracy Pollan; Moderated by Stefani Sassos
Fireside Chat
Maggie Q, Jane Francisco
Connecting Passion and Purpose
Arturo Garcia-Costas, Avi Garbow, Cynthia Luppi; Moderated by Katharine Wilkinson
Good Housekeeping’s 2020 Sustainable Innovation Awards
Birnur Aral, PhD
Fireside Chat
Wallace J. Nichols, Laurie Jennings
Closing Remarks – Amy Ziff, Laurie Jennings


The Future of Health

Featured Speakers:
Dr. Leo Trasande – MD, Researcher, Author of SICKER, FATTER, POORER
Amy Ziff –  Founder, MADE SAFE + Nontoxic Certified

To kick off the day, Dr. Leo and Amy discussed chemical exposures and the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals (or EDCs). EDCs such as pesticides, flame retardants, phthalates, bisphenols, and PFAs are ubiquitous in the environment and can have serious effects on our health and immune systems with lifelong and multi-generational consequences. Despite all the research indicating the harmful impacts of EDCs, Dr. Trasande remains optimistic that we can reduce the effects and change the problem of rampant endocrine disruption. He believes that “prevention is the cure.” He encouraged consumers to take steps to mitigate exposure by eating organic foods, avoiding microwaving plastic, and steering clear of non-stick cookware, to name a few.

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Corporate Sustainability Today

Featured Speaker: John Melo – CEO, Amyris

John Melo shared the exciting trajectory of corporate sustainability in today’s market. With a growing consumer commitment to what is right and healthy, businesses can shift to meet this demand. He argued that the role of corporate influence is to assist in making sustainable choices easy for consumers, and shared the ways that Amyris, using biotech solutions, sees the opportunity to approach this sustainability challenge.

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Green Catalysts: Leadership in the “New Normal”

Featured Speaker: Daya Fields – President, Pipette & Purecane
Moderator: Kate Black – Founder, Ecosessions + Author

Echoing the push towards sustainability in the marketplace, Daya shared that consumers are looking for companies that are about the people and the environment, and that is precisely what Pipette and Purecane are committed to. Their parent company is raising the green bar by achieving carbon-neutral status on their operations, compiling a sustainability report, and donating thousands of products to people in need. But sustainability also includes diversity and a welcoming workplace for all. She works to create an inclusive culture at the office as well as in her community. As for how others can raise the green bar at home? Daya’s tips include making small changes throughout the day, such as using the dishwasher and also more humorous suggestions like trying to encourage kids to not use the toilet as a trash can.

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Fireside Chat with Lauren Conrad

Featured Speakers:
Lauren Conrad – TV Personality, NYT bestselling author, fashion designer, philanthropist, founder of Lauren Conrad Beauty
Julee Wilson – Beauty Director, Cosmopolitan

Lauren Conrad shared the exciting launch of her newest endeavor: her line of clean beauty products. Although they launched in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Lauren said that she managed a successful launch by “knowing what she didn’t know” and bringing in help to fill the gaps. In formulating the line, she wanted to “shoot for the moon,” and challenged the development team to hit all her sustainability goals (such as green packaging and clean ingredients). Lauren also offered her most recent tips for living more sustainably at home, including replacing plastic wrap with beeswax wrap, and composting.

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A Carbon Neutral Future

Featured Speaker: Austin Whitman – CEO, Climate Neutral
Moderator: Tolu Olubunmi – Founder + CEO, Lions Write

Climate Neutral is changing the way consumers shop by offering a way for people to identify brands that have zero net carbon emissions. Their certification program not only makes it easier for consumers to make more informed choices, but also encourages corporations to commit to sustainability. Austin explained how their new seal allows consumers to better harness the power of the wallet, offering an optimistic and simple way to shop with the planet in mind.

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Sustainability Start-Ups Bring It Home

Featured Speakers:
John Mascari – COO + Co-Founder, Blueland
Hillary Peterson – Founder, True Botanicals
Coulter Lewis – Founder + CEO, Sunday

Moderator: Samantha Harris – Author, Your Healthiest Healthy

As consumer awareness of and demand for sustainability increases, dynamic startup companies are bridging the gap to meet this growing demand. Blueland, True Botanicals, and Sunday exemplify this commitment through their numerous efforts to raise the green bar. These entrepreneurial companies are minimizing the impact of their operations and keeping the health of people and the planet at the forefront of everything they do. Each speaker advised as to how people can be conscious consumers and find companies that are striving for health and sustainability:

Coulter – Know the company and know what or who is behind it.
Hillary – Utilize trusted third-party certifications, like MADE SAFE.
John – When you are purchasing something, picture how you are going to dispose of those products, and search for the most sustainable option.

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MADE SAFE News

Featured Speaker: Amy Ziff – Founder, MADE SAFE & Nontoxic Certified

Amy shared the exciting announcement that MADE SAFE’s Banned List, which includes 6,500 substances prohibited from use in MADE SAFE certified products, has launched! This massive list is nearly five times the size of the restricted list in the EU! Clearing this list is the first step in the rigorous screening process for all products that are MADE SAFE® certified, and a testament to the high standards of MADE SAFE certification. Learn more about this amazing resource.

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The Making of Kiss the Ground

Featured Speakers:

Josh Tickell – Author and Filmmaker, Kiss the Ground
Rebecca Tickell – Director, Producer, + Environmental Author and Activist

Moderator: Ayana Johnson – PhD Marine Biologist + Policy Expert, Author

In this inspirational discussion, Josh and Rebecca shared a behind-the-scenes look at the making of their documentary, Kiss the Ground. Despite the devastation of the current agricultural model in the United States on farmers, consumers, and the environment, there is still hope that we can reverse the harmful effects of chemical farming. Through the process of taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the ground—called biosequestration (or drawdown)—the earth has the ability to rebalance the inflicted harm. Adopting regenerative agricultural practices, the central solution offered in Kiss the Ground can help restore the land. With their path-breaking film the Tickells hope to lay the groundwork for grassroots change, inspiring people to care for the planet in their everyday lives which can have an out-sized impact on the planet. A good place for the conscious consumer to start is by composting and buying food which supports organic, biodynamic and local farms. Rebecca closed the discussion with the imperative that “each time we’re making a choice about food, we’re making a choice to either regenerate or degenerate the earth.”

Learn more about the Kiss the Ground film.

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Greener Plates for a Better World

Featured Speakers:

Mark Bittman – NYT bestselling Author, Food Columnist, Food Policy Advocate
Kathleen Finlay – President, Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming
Tracy Pollan – Actress + Author

Moderator: Stefani Sassos Registered Dietitian, Good Housekeeping

Mark, Kathleen, and Tracy shared their expertise and tips for creating a “greener” plate. Top suggestions included diversifying your plate, eating more locally grown food, cooking more at home, and eating a plant forward diet with less industrially-raised meat. The greatest resounding message, however, was the incredible power that consumers have as they “vote with their fork” for the kinds of foods they want to see grown, cultivated, and brought to market.

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Fireside Chat with Maggie Q

Featured Speakers:
Maggie Q – Actress, Humanitarian, Activist + Founder of QEEP UP
Jane Francisco – Editor in Chief, Good Housekeeping

Next up was a fireside chat with actress, activist, and founder of QEEP UP, Maggie Q. Maggie shared that since an early age, her dream had always been to be able to invest in companies that are sustainable. This driving force combined with her love for oceans and the planet inspired her latest endeavor, QEEP UP, a sustainable clothing brand that utilizes post-consumer plastics and helps clear the ocean of pollution. Beyond purchasing from ethical brands like QEEP UP, Maggie advised that any amount of effort, whether it’s decreasing consumption of meat or using reusable shopping bags, can help make a difference for this planet we call home.

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Connecting Passion and Purpose

Featured Speakers:
Arturo Garcia-Costas – New York Community Trust’s National and International Environment Program Lead
Avi Garbow – Lawyer + Patagonia Environmental Advocate
Cynthia Luppi – New England Director of Clean Water Action + Clean Water Fund

Moderator: Katharine Wilkinson – PhD, Author, Strategist, Teacher + Editor in Chief, Project Drawdown

Beginning with a call-to-action for people and organizations to be silence busters and bridge builders, this panel encouraged listeners to see how all of the problems we are facing are interconnected. Action was the resounding theme of this motivating talk, with a large focus on the important role of voting. Individual actions do matter and voting is a hugely important one – so get out and vote. When you do so, keep in mind the environmental issues at stake. Avi closed his thoughts challenging us that “we are the people who we are waiting for,” and so we must be the ones to act.

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Good Housekeeping’s 2020 Sustainable Innovation Awards

Featured Speaker: Birnur Aral, PhD – Beauty + Environmental Sciences Lab Director – Good Housekeeping Institute

Good Housekeeping’s Sustainable Innovation Awards evaluated more than 110 product submissions on factors such as packaging materials, minimalism, performance and more. To see the winners by category for 2020, visit here.

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Fireside Chat with Wallace J. Nichols

Featured Speakers:
Wallace J. Nichols, PhD – Marine Biologist, Water Lover, Turtle Nerd, Founder of Blue Mind
Laurie Jennings – Director, Good Housekeeping Institute

We closed out the day with a fireside chat with Wallace J. Nichols, PhD to discuss the real-life impact and importance of a commitment to sustainability. This summer Dr. J, as we call him, lost his home to one of the severe California wildfires caused by a nearby lightning storm. He warns that we can no longer kick the can down the road anymore with these unchecked issues of climate change. He also shared that now, more than ever, he can see the importance of practicing Blue Mind and “finding your water” amidst stressful and difficult times. The final rallying cry he left with listeners: figure out what your water is and keep your head together. Take good care of your mind and your emotional health. We know what we need to do for solutions to the environmental issues facing us today—so let’s get out and do it.

You can donate to his work with the Live Blue Foundation.

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Closing Remarks

Featured Speakers:
Amy Ziff – Founder, MADE SAFE & Nontoxic Certified
Laurie Jennings – Director, Good Housekeeping Institute

A few final thoughts from the organizers of the fourth annual, first virtual Raise the Green Bar summit. Thanks to everyone for tuning in!

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