You may have seen images and heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive swirl of plastic pieces off the coast of Hawaii. These infographics, one by 5W Infographics on and the other published by, break down what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, look closely at the plastics that comprise it, and examine the impact it also reports that Method, a maker of environmentally-friendly & sustainably packaged cleaners and home products, is releasing a new dish soap packaged in plastic sourced from the  Pacific Ocean. Reportedly, the new bottle is made of recycled plastic, 10% of which is from the Pacific Ocean.It’s a first of its kind—and shows the intersection of sustainability, innovation, and business.  By ‘commoditizing’ ocean plastic, the company has created a product that you literally cannot purchase anywhere else. Just like museums display parts of the Berlin Wall or rocks from the Moon, this bottle enables everyone to own ‘a piece’ of the massive gyre of plastic whirling in our oceans. It takes something that is undesirable waste, and makes it into something that people may covet partially because of its novelty.Scroll below to see Method’s video about the Great Pacific Garbage patch and visit their ocean plastic page to see additional videos, including one showing how the plastic was created and processed to create the new bottles. infographic: Through the Gyre

Did you know that 92% of Americans have took some kind of social change action in the course of a year?This infographic on, based on Walden University’s Social Change Impact Report (3/2011) and published by Mashable, gives a bird’s eye view on how Americans engage in social impact—with attention to participation based on generation—Matures, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (i.e. Milennials).Milennials are more likely to get involved in social change through traditional (versus digital media) methods….what do you think?


92% of Americans Take Action for Social Good
Browse more data visualization.


Social innovation is about recognizing a pain point, and innovating a solution. One could say that a pain point about the holiday season is finding ways to make donation and charitable giving go ‘viral’ the way Black Friday and Cyber Monday do.

 Giving Tuesday
Enter, #GivingTuesday. There is a new initiative to designate the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day to support, promote, and social  media-ize your favorite local charities.
So, what’s the skinny on #GivingTuesday? Here are 5 things you should know:

5 Things You Should Know About #GivingTuesday


1) This is its first year. If you can’t remember how you celebrated #GivingTuesday last year, you’re off the hook. This, 2012, is it’s debut year—and it will be great to hear back from the charities and non-profits on its effectiveness in kicking off the giving season.
2) It has some major org power behind it.  Over 45 organizations, corporations, and entities are listed as Founding Partners of the #GivingTuesday initiative on the official website, aptly named HuffPo credits the launch of this day primarily to the efforts of the United Nations and 92nd Street Y and has done an entire series of posts around it.
3) Each Founding Partner has committed to do something to support it. Perhaps to avoid support ‘in name only’ the #GivingTuesday website details what each Founding Partner is doing. And though some of the Partners have issued a general commitment to support, others have pinpointed specific actions. For example, Discover committed the following:


“We are engaging the Discover community in giving by offering a 2% match to donations to the national chapters of our charitable partners. We will also waive transaction fees to our charitable partners for donations made on #GivingTuesday. And finally, our cardmembers can donate their cashback bonus to our charitable partners and receive a 2% match”.

4) It embraces technology. Just like it’s cousin, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a product of 2.0 parents. While there may be a number of live in-person events recognizing the day—the real action will be online—on your Twitter feed and your Facebook Timeline. Look for your friends calling out their favorite causes and for corporations matching donations or making donations for each action that you take (i.e. liking a charity, commenting on a news item, or posting in support).

5) It’s real, innovative, and is calling…you ! In case you don’t have a favorite charity to support—I am happy to intro you to one of my favorite. Second Harvest Food Bank has been one of my go-to volunteer locations for the past few years. Well-run, it is a place where bulk food is donated, sorted, packaged, and redistributed—daily! It runs with an amazing efficiency and whether you spend an hour or a whole day volunteering there—your time will feel well spent.

For every photo or post on the Second Harvest Food Bank Facebook page, @LiveOps is donating $5 (or 10 meals) to the non-profit.

So, flex your viral social media muscles—and make it a successful #GivingTuesday!

image credit:

When we have talked about impact investing, it is often in the context of theory, of possibility, and of the past experience of emerging sustainable companies, start-ups, and organizations. But what about the financial viability?

Can your stock portfolio boom while championing corporations who are doing well by doing good?

Annie’s Historic IPO: March 28, 2012

If you don’t think so, don’t mention it to Annie’s, the natural and organic food company whose mission statement is ” to cultivate a healthier, happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet” offered its stock to the public on March 28, 2012 at $19 per share and closed at just under $36 per share. The surge continued, with Annie’s (stock abbreviation “BNNY,” an adage to the company’s signature bunny-shaped pasta) shares closed the week posting a gain of more than 80%.

To put it another way, not since LinkedIn’s IPO in May 2011 has a company experienced such a sharp gain on opening day.

Sustainability, In the Open Market

Just like the progress of the new crowdfunding fund bill making headway at the federal level, IPO’s such as Annie’s give the average Sustainability-Minded Sue and Triple-Bottom-Line Tom the chance to be impact investors.

The ability of us as consumers to vote with our wallets as well as our voices reaches a new level when we can plant sustainable stocks into our portfolios right alongside our usual picks. Especially when they are on track to bear fruit.

shift forwardThe U.S. Senate passed the CROWDFUND Act, a bill allowing average citizens the ability to invest modest amounts in emerging start-ups, by a vote of 73-26 this past Thursday this (3/22/12).We talked about this bill in earlier posts “What is Crowdfunding?“and “Crowdfunding Bill Goes to the U.S. Senate” on Innov8Social. Those posts outlined the concept of crowdfunding for investment, versus for donation (as online platforms such as Kickstarter successfully facilitate).Under existing law, the SEC only allows accredited investors to easily invest in start-ups. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the crowdfunding bill in December 2011 and again in March 2012. The House’s version is named Jumpstart Our Business Startups–tidily referred to as the JOBS Act. And now the Senate has responded with passage of the CROWDFUND Act, which serves as an amendment to the JOBS Act.

A look at the CROWDFUND Act

Key features of the U.S. Senate’s CROWDFUND Act include:

  • Entrepreneurs can raise up to $1M annually through an SEC-registered crowdfunding portal.
  • Individuals earning less than $100K can invest the greater of $2K or 5% of their income. Those earning more than $100K can invest the greater of $100K or 10%.
  • Crowdfunding portals must provide investor protection, including investor education about risks related to small issuers and liquidity.

Crowdfunding for Investment, the Social Entrepreneur’s New Frontier

It is hard to even begin to assess the potential impact of citizen investment in emerging companies. And, for social innovators, it is an exciting new juncture. We have talked in the past about citizens’ abilities to ‘decide with their wallets’ through buying from socially responsible companies and outlining new policy an legislation that supports social entrepreneurs. This new turn enabling tangible investment in new companies only underscores this concept. It can make each of us impact investors, seeking both financial and social return on our small investments.

Social entrepreneurs, it’s time to get in the know about the specifics of this legislation and become poised to act if it passes and is signed into law by President Obama.

As they say, shift happens. And sometimes, we shift + forward.

In Innov8Social’s earlier post, “What is Crowdfunding”, we talked about the concept of raising funds through smaller investments or donations as a capital-raising option for a start-up or social enterprise—and limitations to crowdfunding investment due to securities laws.

That post also outlined the efforts to pass new legislation that would establish crowdfunding mechanisms to support small business, create jobs, and pave new pathways for innovation.
The House of Representatives took on crowdfunding in November

In November 2011, the House took on crowdfunding via the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (H.R. 2930) which passed 407-17. You can read the full post about the House’s bill and its key features here.

Now, it is the U.S. Senate’s turn
Last Friday, on December 2nd 2011, the United States Senate introduced its version of a crowdfunding initiative to the floor. Key features of the Senate bill include:
  • entrepreneurs could raise up to $1M from unlimited number of unaccredited investors (without registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission)
  • entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital through crowdfunding must do so through a website and must disclose risks to investors
  • entrepreneurs must incorporate as a business according the applicable state law and must file with the SEC
  • individual investors could invest up to $1000
Unlike the Senate Bill, the House bill enabled a $2M capital raise through crowdfunding. It also specified that individual investors could invest up to $10,000 (or 10% of their income).
The ultimate balancing act: supporting innovation and minimizing risk
While there has been bipartisan support for ushering in new securities provisions to encourage innovation, investment by unaccredited (i.e. non-wealthy) investors, and spur local job creation—there is also concern that we are moving to fast towards a future that can create new kinds of risk for new kinds of investors.

One group voicing their hesitation is the North American Securities Administrators Association. It fears that legislated crowdfunding measures could lead to speculative investment that could be risky to new or small-fund investors.

Read More:
In 2007 a YouTube video created and narrated by social activist Annie Leonard was released, and quickly proceeded to go viral. The documentary–“The Story of Stuff”— walked viewers through the life cycle of production, use, and disposal of goods and the impact on planet, people, and profits. It has been viewed over 10 million times.

As a special post today, we have an interview with the Director of Online Strategy of the Story of Stuff Project, Christina M. Samala. She is part of the team that has gone on to release a total of 7 movies. The most recent documentary addresses an issue on the minds of many these days, U.S. spending, jobs, and investment. The film, “The Story of Broke”, released on November 8, 2011.

Watch “The Story of Broke”
Q & A with Christina M. Samala, Director of Online Strategy & Media at The Story of Stuff Project
Q | Innov8Social: Thanks Christina for joining us and answering a few questions about the film and project. It’s an eye-opening watch & timely considering Occupy Wall Street has been going on for over two months, with protests in over 60 cities worldwide. Did the Occupy movement inspire your team to make “the Story of Broke” or was it already in the works?
A | Christina: The idea to make The Story of Broke got brought to the table almost a year and a half ago. The role that subsidies play in society in the US was on the forefront of all of our minds, but in Annie’s, in particular. Whenever ideas of innovation or problem solving spurred, she frequently heard, “that’s a nice idea, but there’s no money for that” as a response. She heard it so much that she started mentioning it in her talks and found that people really sympathized with that.

So, while this movie has been in the works for a while, I think the sentiments and situations fueling the Occupy Movement are the very same ones that inspired us make The Story of Broke. If anyone’s interested, Annie wrote a great blog about The Story of Broke, Occupy and how while some have gotten bailed out, we the people keep getting sold out.


Q | Innov8Social: What were the primary sources of research used in making the film? Can you provide any links so we can continue our research?

A | Christina: We partnered with a lot great and knowledgeable organizations, an effort spearheaded by Allison Cook, one of my five amazing colleagues at the Project. A lot of these NGOs already have extensive and thorough research on subsidies in the US. For some, like the National Priorities Project, delivering data is core function of their mission.


The best way to dig deeper and learn more:

Q | Innov8Social: What was the most challenging thing about making the film? The most surprising?

A | Christina: Perhaps not the most challenging thing, but definitely one of the first things to come to mind: picking the title. A year and a half ago, when we first started talking about making this movie, we referred to it internally as “The Story of Subsidies”. That stayed the working title for the movie until about June of this year, when we decided that “The Story of Subsidies” didn’t make for a particularly awe inspiring title. I’m pretty sure we were right!

The biggest, and much welcomed, surprise is that our online community is more powerful than Stephen Colbert! At least according to Google Analytics it is. On launch day, November 8, 2011, we registered 71,814 visits to Annie’s appearance on the Colbert Report on March 10, 2010 brought 64,504 visits to We feel pretty darn lucky to have such a diverse and engaged network and are so grateful to every individual and organization sharing our stuff!

Q | Innov8Social: How long does it take to make a film like “The Story of Broke” or “The Story of Stuff”? Do you have any suggestions or tips for budding social entrepreneur filmmakers out there?
A | Christina: The Story of Broke took over a year, from concept to launch. The Story of Stuff took decades if you include all the research and organizing Annie did in the field before bringing the movie to Free Range to start production. As far as suggestions go, if you’re heart’s in it, if your passion can sustain you through all types of hurdles, you just have to go for it. More practically, surround yourself with awesome, insanely intelligent and trusted colleagues!

Q | Innov8Social: If there was one single takeaway you would want viewers to carry with them after watching “The Story of Broke”, what would it be?

A | Christina: We’re not broke and there’s no time like the present to drop the consumer hat and put on the citizen one! Civic participation in these times is a must.

Q | Innov8Social: While the film overviews the current spending issues, much of it focuses on what we can do, on our ability to re-frame the story and make our money work for us, our environment, our economy, and our communities….so, what can we do? :)

A | Christina: We’re encouraging folks to sign up for our Community of Action so we can all flex our citizen muscles together. That’s one way to engage with the issues we raise in The Story of Broke. Another thing that we can each do all day, every day, is just talk about these things. Make a point to have a conversation about it; start re-framing the story. Dialog with family, friends and colleagues about the parts of our spending priorities that you feel strongly about, the parts that affect your life and the lives of your loved ones. When it comes to getting involved, it doesn’t really matter how you start. What matters is that you do start.

One of the things that’s been so uplifting about the response to the movie so far and the Occupy movement is that now, more than ever, I’m witnessing people being vocal about political and social concerns in public forums. Folks, en masse, are finally participating in the conversation of which systems just aren’t working. Along with all that good talking though, we all need to remind one another, and our government, of the power of an engaged, active and united citizenry.

A very special thank you to Christina! You can find out what everyone’s talking about. Watch “The Story of Broke” above!
When you are in the midst of an emerging field, there is often no shortage of related terms and buzzwords. Social innovation is a prime example. Associated words and phrases include:Social innovation IQ

  • social entrepreneurship
  • social enterprise
  • impact investing
  • conscious capital
  • double bottom line
  • triple bottom line
  • social accounting
  • benefit corporations
  • flexible purpose corporations
  • low-profit limited liability companies (L3C’s)
  • hybrid corporations
  • blended value
  • social ventures
  • maximizing stakeholder value
  • doing well, by doing good
  • corporate social responsibility
  • and more….
Terminology, a Social Innovator Does Not Make
Through Innov8Social or various other blogs and resources, you may be (as I am) building your familiarity with key buzzwords in the field. But, as I begin to read books, listen to podcasts, and become more familiar with questions that those outside of social innovation have about the field—I realize that terms and buzzwords may not be enough to achieve the overarching goals of building new kinds of businesses that generate monetary profit while positively benefiting society & the environment.
We Need to Collectively Build Our Social Innovation IQ
What makes social innovation an intriguing prospect is also what makes it complex: it blurs the traditional distinctions between sectors such as financial, government, social, and environmental and seeks to connect them in new ways that align with mainstream business.
Judging by the burgeoning number of social innovation fellowships and accelerator programs available, it looks like more people and institutions are seeking connect with and expand the social innovation arena.
If we are putting out time into engaging and investing ourselves in this emerging field, it may be helpful to build our collective social innovation intelligence.
Components of Social Innovation IQ
Full disclosure, I am not an expert in this field. But as I learn and grow into it, I find myself developing more focused questions about what it will take to succeed as a social innovator and what it will take for the field of social innovation to succeed in impacting the way business is done. Here is my (evolving) understanding of components that can make up a social innovation IQ:
  • Financial intelligence
  • Social & environmental cause intelligence
  • Adversity intelligence
Much of it, I suspect, will begin with understanding the flow of money. Even though capital is one element of the triple bottom line, it is the one that is often most identifiable with mainstream business. Currency is like the electric current that powers machines. Though causes and action often eclipse capital in their reach and karmic importance—to understand that even the most compelling projects will require steady, consistent, and adequate funding is to understand the important role it plays.
Additionally, if we do not have a clear understanding about the history, root, and context of the social and environmental causes we aim to address—we may not be addressing issues in the most effective ways possible. Worse, we may not realize future problems that we are seeding with our best-intention ‘fixes’.
Finally, any start-up entrepreneur will tell you that there can be a fair dose of adversity required to launch and succeed. And, this likely only multiplies when your business is focused on maximizing a triple bottom line (people, planet, profits). We have to be able to identify re-frame our problems, dwell in resilience, and connect with the social innovation community for support and guidance.
What to Read
I am in the process of trying to build my social innovation IQ. I would love to connect with others interested in doing the same. Here are a few books I thought could get the ball rolling:
If this topic interests you, and you are also seeking ways to build a social innovation IQ, connect through the comments below, on the Innov8Social Facebook page, on Twitter, via email.
Innov8Social is 4 months old! And the thanks for its growth and reach goes to you.

Kudos to You
Here are a few things that you can pat yourself on the back for:
  • has had thousands of unique visitors from 53 countries and 450 different cities
  • We have seen a 250% increase in month-over-month pageview traffic
  • And, there’s an exponential increase in the number of people finding Innov8Social through online search engines


The Gift of Sustainable Food, Thanks to Lotus FoodsTo provide a meaningful thank you gift, we partnered with Lotus Foods—a premiere sustainable rice company that has pioneered the introduction of exotic rice handcrafted on small family farms in remote areas of the world. Lotus Food provided some excellent & tasty grains at SOCAP11, and we had a chance to learn more about the company and concept there from one of the co-founders.Special Discount

Lotus Foods is generously offering Innov8Social readers a one-time 10% discount on your entire online order, ending October 31, 2011. Just go to our Facebook page for the discount code.

Lotus Foods logo
for discount code: Go to Facebook/Innov8Social

More About Lotus Foods

  • Lotus Foods was founded with the intent and vision to support sustainable global agriculture by promoting production of traditional heirloom rice varieties…while enabling the small family rice farmer to earn an honorable living.
  • Lotus Fods is the only U.S.-based company with the unique vision and commitment to seek out small family rice farmers in developing countries and provide them a means of economic support through access to a global and sustainable marketplace economy.
  • Lotus Foods has become a leader in the specialty rice category.
  • Lotus Foods served as a panelist in a discussion about poverty alleviation, organized by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008, along with distinguished experts such as Madeline Albright and Raj Shah.


Thank You

Innov8Social has been a unique project on so many levels—producing content that is relevant and useful, finding ways to reach out to you, using avenues of social media to connect, and recognizing this blog not only as a place to write about social innovation but as a platform for enabling it.

We are off to an exciting start.  Thank you for reading, for sharing, for engaging. Most of all, thank you for your interest in the field of social innovation—the fact that we have been around for four months and feel like we are only scratching the surface of social innovation is just evidence that the field is growing and change is happening.
At Innov8Social we realize that we are consumers before we are social innovators. And that we vote with our wallet as much as with our words. With that in mind, we’ll post product reviews for a few of our favorite social innovations from time to time, highlighting what makes them smart and socially innovative…so can become better-informed consumers together.And we’d love to hear about socially innovative products or companies amaze, enlighten you…and even tickle your toes.To kick it off, we have a product that knows when to be there, and when to disappear.

The Product: Biobag Certified Compostable Dog Waste Bags

biobags compostable dog bagsbiobag dog waste bag

Why we like them:   
1. 100% Compostable and Biodegradable. There’s no reason that Fido’s output needs to be stored in a non-biodegradable plastic bag until the end of time, or end up in a plastic bag vortex. With a number of certifications to prove compostability and biodegradability, Biobag’s goal is “to help divert all naturally biodegradable waste from entering our landfills.”

2. Affordable. They generally run under $20 for 200 bags online. That’s less than $.10 per bag and the priceless knowledge that you are doing something to minimize you and your pet’s carbon footprint.
3. Easy to Order. My canine pal Bella and I have been ordering Biobag waste bags since she was a pup from Amazon Subscribe & Save—you get a discounted price, free shipping, and automatic delivery every few months. It saves a trip to the store and makes the process of replenishing dog waste bags, efficient, simple, and even a little exciting (just when you were running out, a box of bags magically appear at your doorstep).

4. A Family of Products. Biobag doesn’t end with dog waste bags, peruse their list of retail products and you will find kitchen garbage bags, lawn & leaf bags, and even composting units.

5. They are the best. Having had the occasion to try numerous dog waste bags, we have found Biobag sacks to be not only environmentally-forward—but also the best. The holes at the top make and the texture make for easy opening and simple disposal.

More Info:

Official website:
Order information:
Press and media:

Do you have any favorite social innovation products? We’d love to hear about them. Share below or email us.