Clean Power in Sports: What Fuels Your Game?

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This article series is sponsored by AEG and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.

Professional sports leagues are in the unique position of communicating with fans of all ages. That means their efforts around sustainability have the potential to reach millions of people who are passionate about their team and their sport—and leagues are increasingly using this clout with fans to drive positive environmental impact forward. 

In 2018, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game became the first U.S. professional league event to be certified as environmentally responsible by the Council of Responsible Sport. The 2019 Midsummer Classic—held on Tuesday—accomplished the same feat, powered by designated Green Teams tasked with engaging fans around sustainability. 

Renewable energy efforts are some of the most visible programs sports teams can take on, as solar and wind power arrays atop stadiums, ballparks and parking lots provide strong, visual demonstrations of sustainability in action. 

Sports organizations were quick to adopt renewable energy ahead of the pack several years ago, even before the cost of wind and solar dropped to today’s low levels. In the MLB, teams including the Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals began adopting solar as early as 2008. 

In the North American Stock Car Racing Association (NASCAR) circuit, the Pocono Raceway installed 40,000 solar panels in its parking lot back in 2010. In the National Football League, the Washington Redskins installed solar panels in 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles began installing solar arrays and wind power systems in 2010, and the Buffalo Bills ringed their stadium with micro wind turbines in 2011.

By 2014, professional sports organizations were also taking fan engagement to the next level by partnering with  residential solar companies on promotional initiatives. At least three teams in the National Hockey League—the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks—took the lead in 2014 with a promotion that offered fans $500 off a Sungevity solar plan. 

Soon after, the NHL announced a league-wide partnership with Constellation Energy for energy efficiency, renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets for the entire 2014-2015 season, making it the first professional sports league to enter into this type of energy procurement partnership.

National Hockey League sports and clean power

Sparking a broader conversation about renewable energy

The Constellation partnership marked a significant development in the way that professional sports leagues communicate with fans about renewable energy. 

Rather than focusing on solar or wind technology at sports facilities, the Constellation program enabled NHL to talk more broadly about environmental stewardship as it relates to preserving the game of hockey itself.

In a 2014 press release announcing the partnership, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained: "Our partnership with Constellation advances our commitment to promoting responsible energy use by the NHL, including our teams, our venues and our fans. Our sport was born on frozen ponds and relies on winter weather. Everyone who loves our game will benefit by taking an active role in preserving the environment and the roots of the game." 

Renewable energy credits and carbon offsets don’t have the visual impact of solar arrays and wind turbines, but they can provide sports leagues with new opportunities to engage fans with sustainability initiatives that they can practice at home.

Not everyone has the opportunity to install their own wind or solar array. However, sports organizations can lead by example in other, more accessible areas related to renewable energy. Carbon offsets for travel are one example. The NHL has calculated that team travel does not play a particularly large role in its overall carbon emissions, but fan travel does. So, earlier this year—for the first time ever—the league purchased enough offsets to cover all team travel for the Stanley Cup. 

The offset initiative provided an opening to talk about actions that fans can take to reduce their own travel-related carbon emissions—if not through renewable energy, then carbon offsets, car sharing, mass transit and electric vehicles.

Raising the profile of renewables

In the MLB, the New York Yankees also demonstrate how professional sports teams can use their media impact to expand the sustainability conversation outward from renewable energy, to embrace the end goal of reducing carbon emissions through a variety of pathways.

The Yankees previously reached fans by partnering with solar leader Sunrun on rooftop solar promotions at Yankee Stadium. This year, the team raised the bar by hiring an environmental science advisor, believed to be the first position of its kind in professional sports. Through the announcement of the new position, the Yankees articulated a more inclusive approach to carbon management that emphasizes waste management, food waste, LED lighting and other actions that fans can practice at home.

Underscoring this inclusive approach, in April the team also signed on to the new U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework. The Framework calls for a broad environmental commitment that includes outreach and fan education, along with direct action to reduce carbon emissions—and other sports stakeholders including the National Basketball Association and AEG soon followed suit in signing on. 

playing hockey outdoors

Where renewable energy meets social equity

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, renewable energy also involves elements of environmental justice, social equity and community well-being. These element are beginning to emerge in the way that sports organizations talk about renewable energy and sustainability—and they come into particularly sharp focus for professional hockey. 

Climate change is just one force threatening the sport. League stakeholders are also concerned about barriers to participation for the next generation of players. “The reason why we do this work is because the NHL wants to ensure that the sport of hockey thrives for future generations. Period. Full stop,” explains Omar Mitchell, the NHL’s first director of sustainability. 

Mitchell cites the NHL’s 2014 sustainability report, which underscores how renewable energy and other sustainability initiatives are intertwined with access issues. While indoor rinks are commonplace, hockey’s historic roots are in free access to outdoor spaces. Reclaiming that element of social equity and accessibility is an important part of NHL’s sustainability strategy. “We need cold weather. We need fresh water. We need breathable, livable places where people can experience the game outdoors,” Mitchell says.

“Sports can be a platform to talk about the environment from a social equity perspective, by creating healthy thriving communities,” he explains. “We like to say that we are on the first stage of a much longer journey. Sustainability is all about continuous improvement. It cannot be one thing ‘done and done.’”

Celebrating progress, and moving on

Next year, the NHL will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its NHL Green initiative, and the league is already looking ahead to additional progress.

On the operational side, much of the focus will be on taking advantage of rapid advances in new technologies for saving energy and water at hockey facilities. With all 31 teams (soon to be 32) signed on to the Green Sports Alliance, the league is in a good position to share best practices.

In particular, NHL teams can take advantage of the league’s ongoing work with AEG, the company that owns the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the LA Kings franchise, among other teams and venues. AEG recently installed an innovative, energy-efficient dehumidifier and water recycling system at the Staples Center, and it has already caught the eye of other NHL franchises. 

On the fan side, one major effort moving forward is to bring innovative technology and best practices into local communities, as about 80 percent of local hockey rinks are more than 20 years old and could benefit substantially from efficiency upgrades, Mitchell says. 

All in all, renewable energy is playing a role in a much broader culture shift, and professional sports is emerging as a key driver of this change.

Image credits: Chanan GreenblattAnders Krøgh JørgensenPriscilla Du Preez and Taylor Rooney via Unsplash

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Not All Nutritionists Believe Meat Alternatives are Healthier

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As the number of people in the U.S. and other countries show a growing appetite for plant-based foods, nutritionists are weighing in on whether these products are as healthy for humans as their producers claim they are for the environment. Plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean healthier, according to some of these dieticians.

As people jump on the plant-based food trend that includes not only alternatives to meat and bovine milk but also vegan yogurt and seafood, more scrutiny is being focused on these products’ health benefits along with any of their highly touted environmentally friendly claims.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, which are leading the trend (and generating most of the hype), claim nutrition and environmental benefits. On its website, Beyond Meat says animal-based meats lead to a 16 percent increased risk of cancer and 21 percent increased risk of heart disease. And certainly, a great deal of scientific research has linked frequent consumption of red meat to heart disease and cancer.

Concerns over processed meat alternatives vs. conventional foods

So that might lead nutritionists to conclude the meatless burgers are better. But not so fast. The refrain “moderation is key” pops up, as well as the argument that whole foods rather than processed foods present a range of health benefits.

Weighing in on the trendy new “meatless” burgers, registered dietician Alissa Rumsey, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, told CNBC: “They are not necessarily healthier than beef burgers. They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.”

Rumsey warned that a public perception that the Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods burgers are healthier than red meat options can lead to a “health halo” around them. As a result, consumers may over-indulge after eating a plant-based burger.

Registered dietitian Catherine Perez also told CNBC that she considers both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger “indulgences” because they are processed foods.  

If it’s protein you’re concerned about, Impossible Burgers are significantly lower in protein than beef-based burgers, yet contain more fiber, according to an analysis by Healthline. It noted that these burgers are also generally higher in fat, contain carbohydrates and have a high amount of added salt.

Nutrition showdown: science experiment or health value?

According to the nutrition website Fooducate, which did a recent “nutrition showdown on Beyond Meat vs Beef,” the amounts of sodium and saturated fat in plant-based burgers are roughly the same as that in a traditional beef burger. But the vegan burgers are highly processed products. Beef burgers have just one ingredient.

The ingredient list for Beyond Meat? “Water, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, contains 2% or less of the following: cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, potato starch, natural flavor, maltodextrin, yeast extract, salt, sunflower oil, vegetable glycerin, dried yeast, gum arabic, citrus extract (to protect quality), ascorbic acid, succinic acid, modified food starch, annatto (for color).Impossible Burgers’ ingredient list is equally lengthy.

Breaking down the Beyond Meat ingredients list, Fooducate says the third and fourth ingredients “are fats, required to make the product's mouth-feel reminiscent of a sizzling juice burger.” Any ingredients beyond the first four listed are what makes a pea burger taste closer to beef.

But in its analysis, Fooducate raises a worthwhile question: “On one hand, this is an extraordinary scientific and culinary achievement. On the other hand, why must we invest so much effort to make vegan replicates of meat products? How about learning to enjoy vegan dishes that have been nourishing humans for hundreds and thousands of years?”

A debate likely to continue

Beyond Meat stresses its products’ 90 percent lower carbon footprint than conventional beef as a huge consideration along with the health benefits of eating less beef, as 3P has reported. The company also says its plant-based meats address global resource constraints and improve animal welfare.

The nutritional debate will no doubt grow more intense as plant-based foods move from supermarket shelves to fast-food menus. Some fast food restaurants like Del Taco, White Castle and Burger King have gone all-in on meatless beef alternatives, while others, like Arby’s, had its own cheeky response with the prototype “Marrot,” a carrot-shaped snack made of turkey.

The market seems to betting on the success of the new alternative burgers, judging from the record-breaking IPO debut of Beyond Meat. The company has said that its plant-based “meat” could eventually become a $270 billion industry, according to The Motley Fool. Nutritional concerns may slow but not derail that bullet train. Nevertheless, companies and investors that are hot on plant-based products may need to take a step back if this debate gets any louder.

Image credits: Beyond Meat/Facebook

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Day Old Bread, Another Front in the Food Waste Battle

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So where does all that excess bread at bakeries go at the end of the day? Some bakeries mark it down the last hour of business or sell it on the cheap the next day. Naturally, one answer to the question of what to do with unwanted bread would be donating it to local food banks and charities – but logistics and local regulations can often get in the way.

Well, across the pond in the United Kingdom, the country’s largest supermarket chain is using day-old bread the way enterprising chefs amongst us have been doing all along – use it to make more food products. And therein lies a new take on the circular economy!

Tesco announced earlier this week that its unwanted baguettes will be churned into other products to be sold at its bakeries. For now, the company will start by making olive oil crostini in addition to one of the best possible desserts one can make – the legendary carbohydrate bomb, bread pudding (shown above).

According to Tesco, if this development ends up being successful, it could be rolled out across all of its U.K. stores. Unwanted bread accounts for a significant part of the supermarket chain’s food waste, but the company envisions that these new food products could cut bakeries’ food waste by 40 percent from current levels.

For now, this crostini and bread pudding experiment will be tested in 24 locations. The price certainly seems appealing for consumers – the crostini will cost about $1 (80p) and the bread pudding will set you back about $1.60 (£1.25). Now for those of you who wonder what will happen to that unsold crostini and bread pudding at the end of the day, we’ll say fair enough, but let’s give Tesco a break . . . and we can follow up once other supermarket chains launch similar programs.

Decadent bread pudding and crispy crostini certainly sound like better options than the 67,500 metric tons of food waste Tesco tossed in 2015 – and one third of that was from bakery products.

Obviously, this move can pay off for Tesco, as now the company can check more boxes on its environmental street cred checklist. But there are lessons for consumers as well – as in remembering that leftovers from last night’s dinner don't have to be microwaved, or more likely, tossed a few days later after they've been forgotten. Rather, that dinner can be folded into the next day’s breakfast or dinner.

Tesco insists this program is adding to the company’s success in taking on its pesky food waste problem. In a recent report, the company said it had donated 63 percent more food compared to last year, and now it is 80 percent towards its goal of having no food safe for human consumption going to waste.

Image credit: Tesco

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Solving the EV Charging Problem, with Mobile Solar Energy

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Electric vehicles (EVs) could soon be a major part of the mainstream car market, but buyers are still wary of the time it takes to recharge an EV battery. Toyota and its partners in Japan are working to overcome that obstacle. They are testing an EV with built-in solar panels for mobile solar energy. If all goes according to plan, fleet managers and other vehicle buyers could have some interesting new options in the future.

The time has come for mobile solar energy

The basic idea behind equipping a car with solar panels is simple enough. Built-in solar panels can provide additional solar energy to an EV battery while the vehicle is in motion, in addition to recharging the battery when the vehicle is parked.

In terms of bottom-line benefits, the extra electricity would provide drivers and fleet managers with more options to operate their fleets more efficiently. They could plan for longer trips between charging times, because the vehicle could remain on the road for longer periods.

Fleet managers could also plan trips that don’t require regular access to charging stations. The car could simply recharge its battery while parked in any spot where sunlight is available.

In addition, fleet managers could have more flexibility to plan trips around the most convenient opportunity to provide for a full recharge at a charging station, however long that may take.

What’s holding back the mobile solar fleet of the future?

Until recently, solar-equipped cars were not entirely practical. Conventional silicon solar panels are relatively heavy. For EVs, the added weight offsets at least some of the battery range gained from solar energy.

Conventional solar panels are also not ideal for plug-in hybrid EVs. The added weight could result in a loss of fuel efficiency (plug-in hybrids run on both gasoline and electricity from a charging station or standard outlet).

Fortunately, conventional silicon solar panels are no longer the only solar energy option. Lightweight thin film solar cells are coming into use for small mobile devices, as well as backpacks and items of clothing.

Thin film is also flexible, so it can be molded around the curved parts of a vehicle.

Last year, the startup Sono Motors introduced the idea of built-in solar panels integrated with lightweight body materials.

Toyota’s approach is similar, though the solar panels are attached rather than fully integrated.

Solar panels on electric vehicles

Toyota is producing the new solar-powered EV demonstration in partnership with Sharp and NEDO, the New Energy and Technology Development Organization of Japan.

Sharp developed the new thin film solar cell in 2016. The company created it in support of NEDO’s goals for a lightweight, flexible, low-cost and high-efficiency solar energy system for use on vehicles.

Last week Toyota announced that the partners are ready to begin public road testing for the mobile energy project later in July. The tests will deploy a Prius PHV plug-in hybrid with Sharp’s solar cells distributed around the car, including on the roof, hood and rear hatch door.

Reducing carbon emissions from the EV fleet

So far, the tests have apparently demonstrated some improvement over a standard Prius PHV with a solar charging system. The new onboard thin film solar system has yielded an increase of almost 5 percent in power output.

The real proof will be how the new system performs in the real world. Toyota will begin driving the solarized Prius later this month in and around Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo, in addition to other places.

If all goes according to plan, the public road tests will demonstrate that on-board solar energy can boost the fuel efficiency of plug-in hybrids and provide for longer drives between charges.

For companies seeking to improve their carbon footprint, the implications are clear. The new system would enable plug-in hybrids to go off grid for longer periods.

That would help reduce carbon emissions related to companies that currently rely on grid-supplied power to charge up their EV fleet.

That’s because in many areas, fossil fuels still play a key role in the power grid.

Getting a leg up on the future

Companies seeking an EV or plug-in hybrid solution for carbon emissions are facing a dilemma. As more electric vehicles enter the market, demand for more fossil-sourced electricity could also increase.

Alternatives like on-board solar energy could provide businesses and fleet managers with the opportunity to push their carbon footprint down more quickly than the local power grid.

If the public demonstration meets expectations, fleet managers will also have some hard data in hand to make the case for solar-equipped vehicles.

Toyota and its partners plan to evaluate the impact on carbon emissions and improvements in convenience and efficiency, too.

Image credit: Toyota

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This Startup Is Building Homes with Recycled PET Bottles

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How many recycled PET bottles does it take to build a house? Canadian startup JD Composites has the answer: 612,000 recycled plastic bottles converted into plastic sheets. The result: a 2,000-square-foot prototype house in Nova Scotia.

“You can design anything with a plastic core,” David Saulnier, cofounder of JD Composites, recently told TriplePundit.

What was Saulnier’s inspiration for repurposing all those bottles? “Building with 100 percent recycled materials was JD Composites’ way of trying to reduce plastic waste while at the same time creating a viable building product.”

The panels were made completely from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic used to make beverage bottles and other consumer goods. Armacell, a Belgian company, supplied what ended up being the recycled, or we could also say, raw materials.

According to JD Composites, the house is the world’s first using 100 percent recycled PET in a structurally insulated panel (SIP) home. Even the structural beams are plastic. The company financed the project with some assistance from the Canadian government, Saulnier explained to 3p.

The house met all building codes, and since there are no seams or thermal breaks, it is both solid and highly-energy efficient, he added. “Recycled plastic structures should last forever; they don’t rot, even if they are damaged,” Saulnier said.

Using recycled plastic makes sense from both a business and energy perspective, he added. Construction costs were about the same as using wood, perhaps a bit higher since this house is a prototype, Saulnier explained. In terms of energy costs, the estimated savings over the life of a 25-year mortgage are $60,000 to $80,000, he said. 

Turning recycled plastic into building materials also chips away at the world’s expanding mountain of discarded bottles. Currently approximately 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide, and the number is expected to increase another 20 percent by 2021, according to The Guardian.

Just three years ago, 480 billion plastic bottles were bought worldwide, but fewer than half got recycled with the rest dumped into landfills or waterways. In the U.S. alone, 1,500 plastic bottles are used every second and more than 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills.

While one plastic house is not an answer to the plastic bottle surplus, Saulnier said he hopes it will spur action. “I’d definitely ask governments for more support in pushing this initiative, and also teaching younger adults and even children about the advantages of recycling more than they do now.” 

Eventually, JD Composites’ house will be sold, but for now it will be rented as an AirBnb to show it off to the public. The company is already working on its next project, an outdoor restroom facility for the town of Mavilette, Nova Scotia, built entirely of recycled plastic, making it the first of its kind to be financed by a municipality in Canada.

“I think this house will prove positive for a lot of people,” Saulnier said. “It’s good to have a positive plastic story for a change.”

Could this idea scale up? We’ve long been familiar with apparel, shoes and even printer cartridges made out of recycled plastic. Builders may want to take a close look at this project, which not only takes on the mounting global plastic waste crisis, but also provides a home that could prove to be resilient to climate change.

Image credit: JD Composites

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Brunch in Dubai is Slowly Becoming More Sustainable

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One of the great joys of living and working in the Gulf is brunch in Dubai. For expats especially, this Friday ritual is well-earned – after all, taking a job in the United Arab Emirates often means working longer hours than one would at home. Of course, the money is also alluring, but plenty of companies require at least a half-day of work on Saturday, which means for many workers, Friday is the only day off.

Hence the anticipation of Friday brunch, where choices abound at Dubai’s finer resorts, hotels and restaurants. Name a cuisine, and it’s yours for the indulging. And we are not talking about your American or British brunch, where you may just score one welcoming drink or pay extra for those mimosas. The price of entry, which can easily cost around $100 and well over $200, often includes all the free-flowing booze you want.

There is a price to be paid for all this excess, which in fairness, is why many people enjoy visiting and living in Dubai in the first place. Life without excess in Dubai is like living in Paris without a walk along the River Seine in Paris or Hong Kong without its famous ferry.

But Friday brunch in Dubai comes with a cost, a jarring one when considering food waste. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) a person living in the UAE wastes a staggering 434 pounds (197 kilos) of food annually. If your jaw hasn’t dropped at that number, briefly consider food waste in Saudi Arabia, which EIU estimates to be 941 pounds (427 kilos) per person, per year.

Also ponder the fact that by far, most food available in the Gulf States like the UAE is imported from abroad. Sure, some food products like eggs and vegetables are raised in the UAE, and can be found in the grocery stores and hypermarkets found all over Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But then the distance at which food travels goes farther and farther. Mangos and carrots come in from India, which is akin to shipping produce from California to the U.S. east coast. Jordan and Kenya are also major food suppliers. But the strawberries, smoked salmon and prosciutto are coming from a continent or two away. Add up those emissions, and most likely your head will spin faster than it will after a five-hour brunch debauchery episode somewhere at the Palm Jumeirah or in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa.

And as with the case of many emerging economies, the UAE does not have the waste management infrastructure to cope with all that uneaten food. Composting in a climate where the average temperature hovers around 106°F (41°C) in the summer is not quite practical; options like the bokashi system won’t scale up at any point soon.

Nevertheless, to the credit of more restaurants and hotels, Dubai is seeing a slow yet steady shift in how brunch unfolds every Friday. Ongoing changes reflect how long-standing doubts over whether Dubai could ever become remotely “sustainable” could soon become reality.

For one thing, Dubai’s government says it will implement regulations that will nudge the emirate’s hospitality sector to become more responsible and behavior, whether those changes involve food, energy or water.  

Meanwhile, more restaurants chefs and managers are taking on the problems of food waste.

Eating local is starting to catch on. More attention to sustainable seafood has been part of this chatter. And according to one of the local UAE daily newspapers, more venues are conscious of food waste and therefore are bringing back the a la carte menu – or at a minimum, offering a hybrid of menu choices paired with stations offering appetizers or made-to-order entrees.

Some restaurants are turning to technology to tackle food waste.

The luxury resort Fairmont Palm Jumeirah, for example, has harnessed technology from Winnow, an artificial technology (AI) firm, to measure, manage and mitigate food waste. The AI solution measures the flow of food at buffet stations so that in real time, chefs have an idea of which dishes to prioritize or slow down while they prepare and cook for the hotel’s restaurants. Winnow says its technology has saved the property about $140,000 a year, reduced food waste by over 60 percent and kept the equivalent of about 70,000 meals out of trash bins and landfill. More hotels within the UAE have recently deployed Winnow’s technology.

It is going to be a herculean effort to change how Dubai’s residents view Friday brunch. Arguably, food waste is among many challenges confronting the entire UAE, from all that power needed for air conditioning homes and offices, the dependence on driving in order to go to and from those buildings and one end result, the country’s struggle with air pollution. The one-two punch of technology and awareness to claw back at food waste, however, is a step, bite and sip in the right direction.

Image credit: Mitch Altman/Flickr; Darjeeling Cafe/Facebook

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Girlboss, a Professional Network for a New Era of Women

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A new social media site – as of press time named the Girlboss professional network -- is taking the LinkedIn networking concept and creating a space “where women support women” by asking, answering and finding advice as well as celebrating wins together.

The site, created by Girlboss CEO and Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, recently launched in beta. Signing up is free and gives you access to a community of “strong, curious and ambitious women” redefining success on their own terms. With a more millennial design and tone than LinkedIn, the website pledges to “inform, entertain, and inspire,” and is “unapologetic” in its beliefs and values of supporting girls and women who are chasing dreams both big and small.

Amoruso told Business Insider that Girlboss is “a place for someone who does or doesn't have a traditional career, who may not have this C-level title but may be on her way up. There are very few places for her to go to represent her resume or life today."

No topic at Girlboss is off limits

Signing up for me was easy and only took a few minutes. Unlike LinkedIn where you are prompted to add your resume and life story, Girlboss asks you to fill in the blanks to three questions: "I'm good at ____," "I'd like to learn ___," and "I'd like to meet ___."

Once registered, you can join in the discussion. The site’s FAQs explain that no topic is off limits. “The Girlboss platform is a place where you can ask and answer questions about all things life, career, and money, and share your vulnerabilities in a safe environment.” The community is diverse, including posts from women (and a few men) of various ages, backgrounds and professions. Some are asking for networking advice, others are looking to market their services. As the site explains, Girlboss is “a place for entrepreneurs, career pros, side-hustlers, freelancers and gig-economy workers.”

The site includes “fireside chats” with women icons such as fashion designer and blogger Aimee SongBeth Comstock, former vice chairman of GE and recent author of Imagine it Forward; and Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer at William Morris Endeavor. The site expects to launch new chats weekly.

There is also a “required reading” section that includes dozens of blogs such as “The Ultimate Reading List for Women in Media,” “How to Grow a Brand People Will Obsess Over,” and “Money Moves: A 12-Week Guide to Investing in Yourself.”

While sign-up to the platform is currently free, buried within the FAQ section the site mentions a subscription plan and payment option. It explains that “If you choose to continue your membership after your trial ends, you’ll be automatically charged one low annual fee for your all-access membership.” While the site says that “The length of your free trial period, if any, will be disclosed clearly on the enrollment page,” this did not happen when I joined, nor was I asked for a credit card or other payment options. Perhaps this will change when the platform emerges from the beta phase.

Phoenix rising from the ashes

The new site is the latest offering from 35-year-old Amoruso, who first became known in 2006 when she launched Nasty Gal, a popular women's online clothing store. According to the Los Angeles Times, Nasty Gal went from an eBay store to a thriving 200-employee company with stores in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that currently pull in in $100 million in revenue.

In 2014, Amoruso’s autobiography, “#Girlboss” spent 18 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and two years later was the inspiration for a short-lived Netflix series. That same year, Forbes called Amoruso one of America’s richest self-made women.

Nasty Gal’s success didn’t last forever, however, and in 2016 filed for bankruptcy amid turmoil. According to the LA Times, there were several rounds of layoffs and allegations by employees of discrimination and by designers claiming copyright infringement.

Despite the downfall of her inaugural start-up, Amoruso picked herself up, continuing the Girlboss brand with a podcast, website and an annual two-day conference. Billed “part conference, part experiential inspiration wonderland,” the Girlboss Rally, as it is known, has drawn speakers such as Arianna Huffington, Cynthia Rowley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Graham and Emily Weiss.

This year’s event, which took place last month at UCLA, attracted 1,800 women from 28 countries. The conference includes workshops, a job fair and a “transparency wall,” where women are encouraged to anonymously share their salaries in hopes of helping other women better understand their own value. Attendees can pick workshops clustered around various tracks: Start-Up Studio, Hustle Hall, Leadership Hall, Confidence Club, and Branding Bootcamp. In between, there are musical performances and poetry readings.

The new Girlboss social platform seems to be a virtual extension of the Girlboss rallies, including more than 65 hours of videos from past conferences.

Building a unique community in her own style

Girlboss has received funding from some highly visible backers such as Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and husband of Serena Williams, who invested $3.5 million according to media reports.

“Sophia has built a remarkable, global community of professional women both offline at the rally and online through all these other social media platforms,” Ohanian told the LA Times. “She knows exactly what her audience wants and has already done the hardest part — built a community.

 “We see countless engineers who’ve built platforms and have never been able to figure out the community-building side of the equation. Her experience and emotional intelligence are an invaluable part of why this is so special.”

Girlboss isn’t the only social networking platform targeted to women – there is also Landit, Bumble Bizz, and Dreamers // Doers. But if the Girlboss platform is anything like Amorusa’s other ventures, it will blaze its own trail and create a unique sense of community.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Girlboss, a Professional Network for a New Era of Women
Description
Girlboss is taking the LinkedIn networking concept and creating a space where women can support women by sharing advice and celebrating wins together.
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