Sustainable Consumption & Production

The Overbrook Foundation’s Sustainable Consumption & Production program seeks out efforts that support innovative ideas in sustainability, particularly around the production and consumption of materials. Projects funded range from promoting EPR (extended producer responsibility) legislation to building sustainable paper markets to innovative recycling methods. Climate change, with a particular focus on energy efficiency and youth engagement, receives distinct but limited support.

Below are the Foundation’s 2013 grantees through its sustainable consumption & production portfolio.

Alliance for Climate Education

General Operating Support - $50,000

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) was founded in 2008 to educate high school students about the science behind climate change and inspire them to take action. Not many organizations can say that their work has reached over 1.6 million five years into their formation. Nor could many claim that they’re actually changing peoples’ minds on climate change. However, ACE is doing both. It recognizes that it is critical not just to raise awareness of climate change and its effects among youth, but to actively engage them in the debate and encourage them to take leadership roles. ACE’s mission is to fundamentally shift the attitude and behavior of a generation and build the will to solve the climate crisis. ACE achieves this through an education and action program that accelerates climate science literacy among teens, providing leadership training and opportunities, and inspiring students to become climate leaders and innovators in the green economy.

American Sustainable Business Council

General Operating Support - $25,000

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) is a growing coalition of business organizations and businesses committed to creating a vision, framework and policies to support a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy. Its members are innovative business organizations and companies that counter the strategies of “old economy” businesses by instituting sustainability in their operations and advocating for sustainable policies. Since 2012 it has added 45,000 new businesses and 50,000 individuals, bringing its membership up to 165,000 and 300,000, respectively. Its top leaders have met with President Obama, testified at Congressional hearings, organized the first-ever Business Summit for a Sustainable Economy, built a presence at state-level in 14 states, and significantly increased its media coverage, using these strategies to elevate business power on crucial sustainability issues.

As You Sow

Consumer Packaging and E-waste Recycling Initiatives - $35,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. In As You Sow’s report Unfinished Business, it estimates that $11 billion of recyclable materials are wasted annually. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a proven strategy in other countries that shifts the responsibility for post-consumer waste from taxpayers and municipal governments to companies that produce the packaging, creating incentives for producers, increasing packaging recycling rates, providing revenue to improve recycling systems, and reducing carbon and energy use. As You Sow is now engaging with 20 companies to develop plans for packaging that will lead to higher recycling rates and reduce environmental impacts. This shareholder advocacy initiative will integrate with ongoing corporate and grassroots efforts to pass EPR policy at the state level. As You Sow is also pressing electronic retailers to provide electronic take-back programs and large corporate technology users to pledge the use of “e-Steward” certified recyclers when retiring equipment.

Clean Production Action

General Operating Support - $45,000

Clean Production Action (CPA)’s mission is to design and deliver strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.The organization’s unique role is to translate the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies that NGOs, governments and businesses need to advance green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products. Projects include GreenScreen, currently the leading application for identifying safer chemicals, and BizNGO, which is at the center of cross-sectoral efforts to transform the chemical and material economy into a more sustainable frame.

Corporate Ethics International

General Operating Support - $10,000

The mission of Corporate Ethics International (CEI) is to ensure corporations serve the citizenry. CEI pursues this mission through several projects, including the Business Ethics Network (BEN) project, founded in 2003 and which is the organization’s flagship project. BEN includes over 700 individual corporate campaign activists and 150 campaign organizations. In terms of capacity-building, BEN provides education, facilitates collaboration and increases recognition of campaign successes with the funding community and the public. Work in 2013 includes supporting their professional activist network (the Citizen Activist Network), services such as their webinars, Corporate Campaign University, activist listserv, and building on its 2012 work to help the public understand the role of the U.S. Chamber in political campaigns and corporate lobbying.

Dogwood Alliance

The Paper Campaign/Carbon Canopy $10,000

Dogwood Alliance mobilizes diverse voices to defend the forests and communities of the Southern U.S.—the largest paper producing region of the world—from destructive industrial forestry. For over 10 years, Dogwood Alliance has been on the leading edge of catalyzing a shift in the U.S. paper market toward greater use of post-consumer recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. Dogwood’s goals for 2013 are to convince Yum! Brands/KFC to adopt sustainable paper packaging guidelines and practices through a sustained public pressure campaign, and to engage McDonald’s in a multi-stakeholder collaborative working to improve forest conservation on private lands in the South as a strategy for achieving its new supply chain management goals. Dogwood is also working to enforce new fiber sourcing policies and actions for International Paper that address controversial logging practices and expand the acreage of Forest Stewardship Council certified forests in the South.

Environmental Defense Fund

Sustainable Corporate Production and Consumption - $50,000

Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science, EDF believes that changing corporate behavior is as important as changing individual behavior, and works to design and transform markets to bring lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems. Through its Corporate Partnerships Program, Environmental Defense Fund works with leading companies to create new best practices for environmental performance, leveraging their influence to create positive change. More recently, EDF has added equity leverage—using ownership positions to exert pressure for change—and a third leverage point: using peer networks to foster innovation and collaboration. EDF will continue to use all three levers to reduce energy use, global warming emissions, waste and toxic pollution.

Environmental Paper Network

General Operating Support - $20,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

Environmental Paper Network was formed by nonprofit organizations in 2002 as a project to accelerate macro-level transformation in the paper industry and foster strong collaboration among organizations working toward this common goal. In 2013 EPN will focus on three areas: creating strategic opportunities for collaboration among member organizations; managing collaborative projects and resources that increase the adoption of sustainable solutions, including the Paper Calculator, PulpWatch.org, WhatsInYourPaper.com, and the Paper Steps/Eco-Paper Database; and providing capacity for participation in critical product standard rule-setting processes for the paper sector.

Food Tank

General Operating Support - $35,000

The Food Think Tank (Food Tank) is a new organization, created to re-frame the current policy conversation about the food system. It seeks to align agricultural systems with nutritionally sound and environmentally responsible production, and connect sustainable growth for farmers with healthy food for eaters. Food Tank launched in 2013, providing original research and an aggregation of agriculture news and commentary, curated and produced several times daily. It strives to become the go-to resource and convene on agriculture issues. In its initial years, the Food Tank plans to offer innovative environmentally sustainable approaches to alleviate hunger, obesity, and poverty by highlighting emerging research, innovations, and global stories of success in agriculture. It will showcase ideas already at work—in cities, kitchens, fields, and laboratories.


General Operating Support - $30,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Founded in 2000, ForestEthics has a mission to protect Endangered Forests and wild places, wildlife and human well-being. The organization carries out this mission by applying an approach of building public awareness, engaging governments, and pressuring and supporting companies—including both buyers and consumers of wood, paper and fuel—to reform their practices. ForestEthics is one of the only groups that both publicly confronts corporations that destroy forests and mobilizes environmentally responsible corporations to speak out on environmental issues, and it has led many of the world’s largest brands—including Staples, Office Depot, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom and many others—to adopt improved policies for paper procurement and usage. In ten years, it has secured agreements to protect more than 65 million acres of endangered forests in Canada and the United States.


GAIA U.S. & Canada Program: Advancing a New Materials Economy & Making Recycling Work in the United States - $40,000

GAIA is a worldwide alliance of more than 600 grassroots organizations and individuals in 89 countries and whose ultimate vision is of a just, toxic-free world without incineration. GAIA’s two-part strategy, which focuses on both stopping unsustainable practices and advancing solutions, is reflected in its dual name: the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance. In keeping with GAIA’s broad purpose, the network’s core activities include: organizing regional and global meetings for collective strategizing; hosting active e-mail lists that provide a virtual space for member-to-member support; facilitating skill-shares and global days of action; publishing new informational materials; and, when possible, providing technical and fundraising assistance to members in need. In 2014 GAIA will continue its multifaceted, proactive efforts to promote recycling, reuse, and composting as key environmental, climate, and job creation strategies as well as working to advance “responsible recycling.”

Green Press Initiative

General Operating Support - $25,000

The purpose of the Green Press Initiative is to advance systemic changes within the paper production and consumption cycle which result in the preservation of endangered forests, greenhouse gas reductions, conservation of natural resources and protections for affected communities. GPI plans to focus on the engagement of U.S. book industry stakeholders in continued progress to reach 2012 treatise paper-related benchmarks of 30% recycled/20% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified (the industry is now at 24% and 16%, respectively), and to continue working in partnership on a new methodology for calculating paper’s impact on forest carbon. In addition, it will work with the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage, a fellow initiative of SEE Innovation.


General Operating Support - $40,000

Groundswell’s mission is to unlock communities' shared economic power to grow sustainability and expand prosperity on the local level. By organizing communities into collective purchasing groups and negotiating discounted rates for clean energy, Groundswell is able to make clean energy accessible to families and organizations for the first time. This expands the clean energy economy and reduces the carbon footprint of energy consumption.

Ultimately, Groundswell works to change consumer and business behavior, reduce energy consumption, create new economic opportunities by driving business to local contractors, and promote social welfare by reinvesting savings into community programs.

Health Care Without Harm

Healthier Hospitals Initiative - $50,000

The mission of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is to transform the health care sector, currently a major polluter, and to reduce harm to human health and the environment. For over 17 years, HCWH has done groundbreaking work in researching best practices, testing them and providing implementation tools for hospitals. Yet, this agenda has been put into practice unevenly through the healthcare system. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative was created to challenge hospitals to better practices in six areas: Smarter Purchasing, Safer Chemicals, Leaner Energy, Healthier Foods, Less Waste and Leadership. The Initiative has grown to 13 Sponsoring Systems, comprised of the largest, most influential heath care systems in the U.S. And, with 850 hospitals participating, the Initiative is almost halfway to meeting its goal of enrolling 2,000 hospitals (35% of the entire healthcare sector). These hospitals represent more than $21 billion in purchasing power.

In Our Backyards (ioby)

General Operating Support - $50,000 (second payment of a two-year grant)

Founded in July 2008, and launched in beta in April 2009 as a NYC pilot, ioby (rhymes with Nairobi—stands for the opposite of NIMBY) is the only digital engagement platform specifically designed to direct an untapped source of citizen philanthropy to the environmental grassroots movement, bring meaningful opportunities for civic participation to environmentalist supporters, and stitch together the stories of innovation, change and community-building into a larger narrative on the importance of urban revitalization as a mechanism to address global environmental challenges. In April 2012, ioby announced its national expansion, and as of September 1, 2012, had leveraged the platform to raise and disburse nearly half a million dollars in citizen micro-donations averaging $35, fully funding nearly 200 projects that make urban neighborhoods stronger and more sustainable.

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy

Don’t Waste LA Campaign - $35,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) is a leading advocacy organization dedicated to building a new economy for all, grounded in good jobs and a healthy environment. Its “Don’t Waste LA” (Waste and Recycling) project aims to systematically transform the waste and recycling industry in the city of Los Angeles and other cities in LA County and create a national model for resource management. In 2010, LAANE began its campaign to push for an exclusive franchise system of hauling, where recycling regulations could be strengthened, standardized, and enforced. After a hard-fought campaign by LAANE’s team and allies, the City Council voted in November 2012 in favor of converting to a franchise system. Regulations and an ordinance are presently being developed with LAANE's input. For 2013, LAANE’s objectives are to ensure that the competitive franchise policy to be finalized by late 2013 will maximize recycling and reuse, establish safety, labor and environmental standards for hauling and processing facilities, and will be implemented in the most sustainable manner.

Movement Strategy Center

General Operating Support - $50,000

Movement Strategy Center (MSC) is dedicated to transformative movement building. MSC seeks to create a movement ecosystem of deeply connected groups that share values and rely on each other to respond to the needs of impacted communities, advance policy solutions, and transform the lives of people on the frontlines of change. MSC partners with more than 300 grassroots organizations, alliances, networks and foundations that operate at local, regional and national levels. The organization places the experience and leadership of those most impacted at the center of its transformative movement building. The majority of its partners are organizations led by low-income, people of color, immigrant, youth and other marginalized populations. Movement Strategy Center seeks support to nurture connections between movement-building efforts as it launches a ten-year transformative movement building initiative. MSC’s goal is to cultivate existing and emerging collaborations and alliances within and across social justice sectors to foster value-based alignment in framing, strategy and outcomes.

Natural Resources Defense Council

Promoting Extended Producer Responsibility and Sustainable School Food and Packaging - $70,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

Founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has become one of the nation’s largest environmental advocacy organizations. NRDC lawyers helped write some of America’s bedrock environmental laws. Today, the NRDC staff of more than 300 attorneys, scientists and policy experts work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. NRDC is also working to advance replicable models of product stewardship—putting the burden on producers to make sustainable choices in packaging their products and take responsibility for the waste they create—by advancing extended producer responsibility legislation in Rhode Island and California. Recently, NRDC has been asked to advise six of the nation’s largest school systems—including New York City—on procuring antibiotic-free chicken and phasing out the wasteful, antiquated Styrofoam lunch trays still used in school cafeterias.

Product Policy Institute

Campaign for Sustainable Products and Packaging - $25,000

Product Policy Institute’s (PPI) mission is to prevent waste and to promote sustainable production and consumption practices through good public policy and governance. PPI’s ultimate goal is to advance sustainability by advocating product polices that result in green design and closed loop cycling. PPI’s strategy is to develop a strong framework of product-focused environmental policies at the state and local level across North America, which will ultimately drive effective national policy. PPI has reached a critical mass of support in the Northeast region, acting as an influential legislative and organizational voice for EPR legislation in six Northeastern states. PPI played a significant role in crafting EPR resolutions for the US Conference of Mayors, as well as the National League of Cities.

Product Stewardship Institute

Building Capacity to Pass EPR Legislation for Packaging, Batteries & Mattresses - $20,000

Founded in 2000, the Product Stewardship Institute’s mission is to pursue initiatives to ensure that all those involved in the lifecycle of a product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts, with producers bearing primary financial responsibility. Just one year after the organization’s founding, it created the nation’s first cohesive, published set of goals for product stewardship in the United States, to spur a change in the way products are designed so that manufacturers, retailers, governments and consumers share the responsibility for minimizing the product’s health and environmental impacts. PSI’s work includes initiating and leading national negotiations in over 18 industry sectors, resulting in the development of model legislation for—and the passage of—25 state electronics laws, 10 state thermostat laws, 4 state paint laws, and 3 state lamps laws. Furthermore, PSI has laid the groundwork for the introduction of EPR laws for mattresses, batteries, and other products that it has assessed have the greatest likelihood of passing. PSI takes a collaborative approach that brings together divergent parties to develop joint product stewardship solutions.

The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice

Environmental Sustainability Program - $40,000

Founded in 2003, the Vance Center is part of the New York City Bar Association, and mobilizes the global legal profession to promote social justice, human rights and the rule of law. The Vance Center established the Environmental Sustainability Program in 2011 to provide a range of legal resources in support of environmental protection in Latin America. The Working Group engages environmental lawyers from international firms in New York City and Latin America, in consultation with environmental organizations focusing on the region, to identify systemic, cross-border challenges, and design and implement multi-pronged strategies for addressing them. Regulatory reform, collaborative advocacy and private-public partnership are strategies that succeeded in the United States, and now can start in Latin America, to promote remediation, conservation and conscientious stewardship.

The Story of Stuff

General Operating Support - $40,000

The Story of Stuff Project was founded in 2008 by Annie Leonard to leverage the remarkable success of The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute web-film that explores the hidden environmental and social consequences of America’s love affair with its Stuff. The Project seeks to fundamentally transform systems of production and consumption — the way we make, use and throw away Stuff — so that they serve, rather than undermine, environmental sustainability and social equity. The Story of Stuff Project team believes industrial systems should operate more efficiently and use only material inputs that are compatible with biological systems. In 2013, The Story of Stuff will produce and release its ninth web film, The Story of Solutions; produce, beta test and launch an innovative, online Citizen Muscle Boot Camp; and create and introduce three, Community-generated campaigns on reducing plastics volume and toxicity, increasing sharing of infrastructure and diminishing political corruption, with a focus on overturning Citizens United.

Urban Green (U.S. Green Building – New York Chapter)

General Operating Support - $40,000 (first payment of a two-year grant)

Urban Green Council’s mission is to lead the advancement of sustainability in the urban built environment and to serve as a model for other cities through education, advocacy, collaboration and research. It helmed the Green Codes Task Force, which released 111 proposals to green New York City’s codes in February 2010. Through the Council’s advocacy, 35 proposals have been adopted with more under consideration. Urban Green also provides a wide range of educational and networking events for its members and the green building community at large; conducts research; and advocates for change that will make cities more sustainable. After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg asked Urban Green to chair the Building Resiliency Task Force.

Grantees by Year:  2015  |  2014  |  2013