Handprinting and Supply Chains

Jun 16, 2020 10:59:29 AM

Supply Chain, Sustainability Reporting

Planet Earth: The third rock from the sun, in a solar system located in an outer spiral of the Milky Way galaxy, covered in vegetation, water, and boundless biodiversity. All of these traits are just a few ways that make our planet special and irreplaceable. With Earth being the only life-supporting planet in the observable universe, it seems like humanity is here to stay (sorry Mars!), which means even more reason to preserve and protect it.


Earth and its diverse ecology provide us with everything we need to thrive through ecosystem services. As a resident of planet earth, you have likely heard of carbon or ecological footprints. These footprints are ways for us to measure our impact, as individuals or communities, on the environment. Footprints are usually measured by the amount of land and/or fossil fuels required to sustain a lifestyle. Exploring your own footprint can be a difficult feat. Learning about how each of your decisions impacts the environment can be overwhelming and disheartening. While examining how your personal decisions negatively impact the world around you, it is equally valuable to learn how you can create positive change in the world and for the environment.


Gregory Norris, co-director of Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) and chief scientist at the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), has redefined how we think about our impact through the idea of handprints. According to Norris, handprints are the various contributions that lead to positive change in the world, including actions that reduce footprints. In short, footprints are the environmental and social impacts of our actions. Handprints are the environmental and social changes outside of our footprints, ideally to influence forward-thinking transformation.


Almost every single one of our actions has unintended consequences that affect systems around the world. It's important to remember our place in the broader system though. As Norris mentions, we all have footprints and we're all embedded in a system of forced labor that depends on global supply chains. We did not choose this system as individuals, but we can choose to make it better, using handprinting as a tool.


These same concepts are extremely relevant on a larger business scale in that company actions change the footprints of consumers and business partners, thus influencing their own company's handprint. Companies are more often than not impacted by market forces that determine the future of their business strategy. Therefore, as consumers continue choosing brands and products that are more sustainable and regenerative, the market will reward businesses who stay ahead of the curve.


This is where Toxnot can help suppliers and manufacturers achieve these ambitious handprinting goals. Supply chains are complicated and often mysterious. Toxnot allows you to store product and material data, maintain that data, and even perform supplier outreach to fill in gaps of data. With the product and material data you capture in Toxnot, you can then screen them against dozens of hazard and regulatory lists, create sustainability reports, and even use that information to advocate for cleaner ingredients. With Toxnot helping you maintain and further product transparency within your business, your company and consumers will be able to grow their positive handprints.



Harvard Extension

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