The Rounds is a company focused on delivering everyday essentials in a more sustainable way compared to large corporations like Amazon. Two University of Pennsylvania alumni, Alexander Torrey and Byungwoo Ko, used their skills to develop The Rounds in 2019 and the two now lead a growing company working towards bringing sustainability and convenience to cities across the United States.
The Rounds’s goal is to be a local type of delivery that delivers low-waste household, personal care, pantry, baby and pet items right to your door. Their website explains that “The Rounds is a zero-waste refill and delivery service for the stuff you use every day. We keep your kitchen, bathroom and vanity stocked with local favorites and sustainable basics.” These essentials are delivered to doorsteps via e-bikes — just one of the ways The Rounds reduces their carbon footprint.
The Rounds launched in Center City, Philadelphia, but has since expanded to surrounding neighborhoods like Fairmount, Fishtown, Graduate Hospital, Queen Village, Manayunk, Chestnut Hill and Germantown. In addition, The Rounds is expanding to Washington, D.C., and is preparing to launch in Miami soon. The sustainable company is already seeing environmentally positive results because the neighborhoods have experienced a reduction in trash since using the service. The Rounds estimates that its members will save an average of 50 pounds of package waste from their homes each year.
The Rounds boasts their environmentally-conscious message by using zero-waste packaging, including reusable containers and bags. Customers can leave their empties on their doorsteps and The Rounds swaps them out for new ones. The company explains that this model is like the modern day milkman, but for all essential goods. As for the actual products, The Rounds partners directly with manufacturers and local businesses to give their customers the highest quality, most sustainable staples.
The rounds utilizes a membership business model, so there are no delivery fees and the weekly refills are included with your membership, which is $5.95 a month. With a membership customers get access to:
Overall, The Rounds is a step into the future of environmentally-conscious consumerism and was begun by our fellow Philadelphian students. Their success shows your passion can turn into a business idea or, better yet, a business idea that will help the local and global communities someday.
Can La Salle please start recycling? I will get into research and logistics in a moment, but I am genuinely embarrassed and upset that I am writing this article in 2022 amid a literal climate crisis. Why would an institution of higher learning and research refuse to invest in recycling? I will never understand.
There are recycling cans on main campus (which I personally think are probably just dumped into a dumpster with the regular trash) and the university claims on this website that the Grounds Division at La Salle University consists of technicians who are very knowledgeable in their profession. They are dedicated to keeping the La Salle Community looking exceptional and free of debris. Their tasks include the following: lawn maintenance, landscaping, removal of trash, recycling and snow removal, as well as the Custodial Division at La Salle University, who are responsible for trash/recycling pickup. However, there aren’t recycling bins in any of the residence halls.
Living close to campus, I take a bag of recycling home every now and then because my conscience literally cannot bear throwing away single-use plastic just because I don’t have access to recycling at my apartment.
There are many benefits to recycling: according to Eco-Cycle, many items that are recycled can be repurposed into different things rather than sitting in landfill for the next 100+ years. For example, steel products can be recycled over and over again. In addition, plastic can be recycled into so many different things like carpet, clothing, auto parts and new bottles. Similarly, paper is recycled into new paper. Some types of paper can be recycled up to seven times. Just by recycling about 30 percent of waste every year, Americans could save the equivalent of 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road. In addition, the process of recycling can also create jobs as for every one job at a landfill, there are ten jobs in recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturing.
This lack of proper and adequate recycling at La Salle is not the only issue — the University is being wasteful in other ways. The lights in the business building are kept on 24 hours a day, seven days a week! Also, can we talk about the straws and plastic utensils in the dining hall? This article is my call to action for La Salle University — both the administration and the student body — to put time and perhaps even money into making the university more sustainable. I learn about climate change in my classes and then exit the classroom to see vending machines full of plastic bottles that we do not have the resources to recycle, which seems a little backwards to me.
I think there are various solutions to La Salle’s recycling and sustainability issues, starting with turning off the lights in Founders Hall, providing recycling in residence halls and using more reusable materials in our dining halls. This is just a list of options I thought of in about 13 seconds.
I know that there are perhaps logistical and financial barriers to these solutions on the front end, but in the future if the university puts some funds into these things, the effects will certainly pay off both financially and environmentally. To both the higher ups at La Salle and its student body: let’s get better, because I do not want my grandchild to die from climate change or to be living the same non-recycled plastic in 50 years. If this enrages you also and you have answers regarding sustainability at La Salle, feel free to email me.
Combating climate change is something that the Biden administration has put to the forefront. President Biden talked about adding aspects of the proposed Green New Deal into his agenda and has appointed John Kerry to head the newly formed United States Presidential Envoy for Climate. These measures are a good start, but it is not enough; solar panels and wind turbines have long been hailed as the leaders of renewable energy, but what if instead of trying to use nature to stop climate change, we work with nature?
This is where permaculture comes in. Permaculture is the idea of building self-sufficient communities which only use the resources given by nature. The idea of it might seem very outdated for modern society, however, when you break down permaculture, you start to realize how a simple idea can result in massive change.
One of the most important ideas of permaculture is keeping everything in a closed loop system; permaculture communities grow their own food, get their fertilizer from waste produced by the livestock they own and feed said livestock with feed grown by the community. You don’t have to rely on stores or chains to provide food for the community or livestock; you are your own store.
The second most important idea of permaculture is rain conservation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans lose about 50% of their outdoor water due to poor irrigation systems. Faulty irrigation results in the annual loss of 25,000 gallons of water yearly. Permaculture attempts to fix this problem by going back to our roots. One idea is building canals on swampy land and raising the land around it. This idea was inspired by the Aztecs, who famously had some of the best irrigation systems in pre-colonial North America. This water can then be used to grow crops and farm fish, without causing much destruction to the land.
Water collected in rain barrels can be used to water plants; HGTV offers a tutorial on how to build a system for your own home.
The final big idea of permaculture is working with nature, not against it. This can be done in several ways. One way is using animals to get rid of invasive insects instead of pesticides. It is becoming clear that chemicals sprayed on food are not only harmful for the people who eat the food, but also harmful for the person spraying the chemicals. Permaculture uses alternative sources of pest control, such as using chickens to eat the bugs off the food.
Working with nature also comes into play when building structures. Instead of just having a rain barrel, people in a permaculture society will use the rain barrel to store water and grow aquatic food or build a fence that will keep animals in and catch wind at the same time.
Obviously, not everyone will want to move to a permaculture society. However, that doesn’t mean we all can’t use the ideas of permaculture to make our own homes a little greener. If it is possible, I highly recommend growing some of your own food. Find different ways to store rainwater and come up with ideas to reuse old waste products. It might seem small, but every big change started with small ideas.
Photographed above is Goldman Sachs Senior Advisor Steve Strongin. As the former head of Goldman’s Global Investment Research Division, Strongin has lead Goldman’s research efforts on ESG investing.
Markets are rapidly evolving in nature, especially in today’s climate as they continue to reel in volatility amid a global pandemic. No one can deny that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for drastic change in society and markets, but it is important for investors and people to see that it can catalyze positive change as well. One trend we are looking at moving forward is how investors embrace environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) investing. Wall Street’s sentiment on ESG investing ranges from stark pragmatism to optimism and hopefulness depending on what financial institution you are asking.
Earlier this summer, Goldman Sachs covered the topic on their podcast, “Exchanges at Goldman Sachs,” where they cover trends shaping markets. The episode, titled “Sustainable ESG Investing: Turning Promises into Performance,” featured Steve Strongin, a senior advisor at Goldman and former head of its Global Investment Research division. Strongin outlines a report he and his team drew up on ESG investing, outlining a pragmatic viewpoint on how investors should shape their ESG investment strategies. One of the first points he makes is how investors need to think long-term in regards to generating return from ESG-centric strategies. The key idea behind ESG investing is when companies care about the environment, diversity and, overall, how their company is governed, then they will be able to take advantage of greater opportunities in the future and the seizing of those greater opportunities is what garners return in the long haul. Strongin specified that investors should expect a liability of no less than three years, with the possibility of needing to extend that liability based on market conditions.
Perhaps the most interesting point Strongin made is that people mistake ESG as more of a “bumper sticker” than an investment style, in that they do not view it pragmatically enough: “[People think that] as long it’s on the right side of history, it’s supposed to be a good investment — the world isn’t that kind.” Instead, he brought up carbon as an example of how investors should view ESG as a style of investing. According to Strongin, someday, within the next 5 to 10 years, we will end up with a price of carbon, within the regulations, that will set the “efficient frontier” for addressing climate change. Opportunities investors should look out for are investments that can help companies operate in regulatory environments that are more focused on climate change; for example, a tech company that helps automakers decrease the carbon emissions of their vehicles.
BlackRock’s “The Bid” lends a different perspective on how sustainability should be factored into investment decision-making in a post-COVID world. Host Mary-Catherine Lader, in the episode titled “Can sustainability accelerate economic recovery?”, brings together some of the brightest minds in the ESG investment space to discuss how ESG investing can spur an economic recovery after the pandemic, which caused massive economic contractions across the globe. Globally, $12 trillion dollars is being injected into the global economy and, as a society, we can use that money to shape markets around sustainability or revert them back to a “business-as-usual, highly fossil fuel driven economy.” Guests on the show made it clear that there is a great opportunity ahead, in large part due to COVID-19, to change course toward sustainability. Guest on the show, Fiona Reynolds, CEO of Principles for Responsible Investment, discussed how people are now beginning to understand how interconnected issues are throughout the world — “if you don’t have healthy people, and you don’t have a healthy planet, then you can’t possibly have a healthy economy. The three things go together.” What this should mean for the investment industry is clear: ESG, or lack thereof, poses risk to markets and participants investing in them. Peter Bakker, CEO and President of World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), echoed this sentiment and took it a step further, stating that investors need to begin factoring in companies’ performance in sustainability into its cost of capital.
It sounds far-fetched, but his rationale is based on the assumption that Steve Strongin of Goldman Sachs spoke about: companies that care about the environment, diversity and, overall, how their company is governed, will see higher returns in the long-run and, if we accept this to be correct as it is becoming the overwhelming consensus, we should find ways to price companies based off of their performance in ESG. Financial institutions are beginning to see this as reality more and more but, as guests on “The Bid” later discuss, convincing individuals has been the latest hurdle in convincing the world that ESG investing is an incredible investment opportunity and not just an obligation that must be fulfilled on behalf of all mankind. Guests on the show all agreed that acting as soon as possible is imperative to avoiding the costs that will be incurred for not paying mind to sustainability in our environment and our society. They suggest that, in order to convince policymakers to jump in on that action, the data we use to measure sustainability impact still needs to come a long way. The reality is the more case studies that can be used to demonstrate where sustainability created a value add-on for a portfolio and for markets, the more likely individuals of our society will jump onto the ESG train and pressure their elected officials and other policymakers to do the same.