Green Growth 50: Learning From Companies Boosting Profits While Cutting Emissions

EBay at its very core pioneered the circular economy — of finding new homes for treasures that might otherwise have ended up at the dump. “Avoiding items going into a landfill is very important to our customers,” says Steve Priest, CFO of eBay. “Driving the circular economy is part of everything we do.” But finding new shelves for Beanie Babies is just a small component in eBay’s sustainability efforts, which prioritize slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

In eBay’s case, these are mostly tied to electricity used to power vast data centers. Since 2017 eBay has cut its carbon emissions by 29% to 88,000 tons per year. The e-commerce giant became carbon neutral this year, and is aiming to achieve a 100% renewable electricity supply for all its offices and data centers by 2025.

This goal might actually be attainable in the next few years as eBay’s biggest clean energy projects yet come online. The White Mesa Wind Project in Texas (a joint venture with Apple, Sprint and Samsung) began operating this year, producing 75 peak megawatts for the four companies, enough to power 20,000 homes.

Meanwhile the Ventress Solar Project in Louisiana, a virtual purchase power agreement between eBay, McDonalds and BP’s Lightsource division, will generate 345 MW. “We collaborate with our tech peers when some sustainability issues come up, where banding together makes more sense,” says eBay’s chief sustainability officer Renee Morin.

Such efforts have earned eBay the no. 11 spot on our inaugural Forbes Green Growth 50 list. Using emissions data from Sustainalytics and financial data from FactSet Research Systems, we honed in on U.S. companies with market caps greater than $5 billion, that started with more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions in 2017, and have since successfully reduced their emissions while simultaneously growing profitability (as measured by an absolute increase in net income or operating income from 2017-2020).

Going in, we figured these criteria would produce a list of more than 100 companies. But green growth is harder than it looks — both Weyerhaeuser and Edison International, ranking no. 21 and no. 10 on our list, grew earnings less than 2% since 2017.

Is there a connection between cutting carbon emissions and boosting earnings? eBay’s Priest thinks we’ve reached the point where companies that don’t care about green will find it nearly impossible to deliver growth. “Customers want to be associated with corporations that take their environmental responsibilities very seriously. Those that do will continue to drive loyalty from their customer base.”

This is a strategic emphasis echoed by Stephan Tanda, CEO of Aptar, which took the no. 1 spot on the Green Growth 50. Aptar makes myriad drug delivery systems and dispensing products for consumer goods, especially foods and cosmetics. “We look at everything we do through a sustainability lens.” Most of Aptar’s facilities in Europe are already certified landfill free. By the end of the year Aptar is looking to achieve “80% disposal avoidance.”

It’s a business that involves reconciling contradictions — most of their products are plastic, which he says actually has a pretty low carbon footprint relative to alternative containers. A new Aptar product is a “monomaterial” lotion pump with no metal parts, entirely recyclable.

Consumer demand for such new products is arguably more impactful than the kind of government policy circus on display at the recent COP26 meetings in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Governments don’t impact what we do that much. Consumers and patients and customers demand what we do,” says Tanda. They will pay for the carbon transition because it is what they want. Listening to the consumers is how Tanda aims to “future proof our business.”

That approach has worked for electricity giant AES, which landed no. 15 on the Green Growth 50 list after reducing emissions by 22%, replacing coal-fired power plants with wind, solar and batteries — “a winning combination that can decarbonize 90% of the grid,” says Chris Shelton, president of AES Next. Because the costs of renewables kept going down, they were able to shift customers over under a “green, blend and extend” program.

AES also operates a kind of inhouse venture capital operation. Its Fluence utility-scale battery joint venture with Siemens recently went public and now sports a $6 billion market cap — the company behind some of the biggest battery installations in the world. 

There used to be a large group of companies “in denial” about mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. “That group is vanishing fast,” with companies moving over to the “bargaining” group, where they want to know the minimum they have to do to get by and keep activists off their back — that’s the insight of Chris Romer, cofounder of Project Canary, which installs laser-based sensors at industrial sites to monitor methane leakages.

The landmark ESG moment, he says, was last year’s ExxonMobil annual meeting, where shareholders voted in more green-friendly board members.  There’s no going back. Romer says manufacturers can already earn multiples of their monitoring and certification costs by selling “green” products at a premium.

Even on the Green Growth 50, some companies are less enthusiastic than others. Nicotine giant Altria for example, positioned at no. 35 on our list, seems to be doing just enough, having cut emissions by 10% in the studied time period. But according to its most recent sustainability report, Altria’s renewable energy use is just 2.3% of its total, a surprisingly meager ratio.

Altria also demonstrates how hard it can be to stick to a well intentioned program. The company was making great strides toward reducing the amount of waste it was sending to the landfill. In 2018 it nearly hit its 21 million pounds goal. But 2019 wrecked the trend, when Altria delivered 87 million tons to landfill — mostly rubble from a headquarters renovation. Their next challenge: reducing litter from cigarette butts.

Stronger performers included Eli Lilly, which ranked eighth on our list after the pharmaceutical company swapped out old light bulbs for LEDs at three plants, saving 330 mwh per year. And Bristol Myers Squibb, which heats its Munich, Germany office building with 100% geothermal energy, found itself at no. 13. Church & Dwight, parent company of Arm & Hammer, has meanwhile placed third on the list, having achieved its goals of no more PVC in packaging, and offsets carbon emissions by planting millions of trees in the Mississippi River Valley.

I’m an assistant editor based in New York covering money and markets for Forbes. In the past, I covered minority communities for the Boston Business Journal

Christopher Helman

Tracking energy innovators from Houston, Texas. Forbes reporter since 1999.

Source: Green Growth 50: Learning From Companies Boosting Profits While Cutting Emissions

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Five Ways Nostalgia Can Improve Your Well-Being

Some recent studies suggest that experiencing nostalgia about our past can make us happier and more resilient during times of stress.

I often find myself nostalgic for days gone by—especially my young adulthood. Thinking about days when I could go backpacking with a friend on a moment’s notice or dance the night away at my wedding, without the constraints of child care or a limited energy supply, gives me a bittersweet feeling—a mixture of joy, sadness, and longing.

While I find nostalgia pleasant overall and even inspiring, doctors and psychologists did not always consider it a good thing. Staying “stuck in the past” was often associated with being unable to adjust to new realities, like when soldiers were nostalgic for their faraway homes and experienced loneliness and dread. Not that long ago, some considered nostalgia to be a mental illness, akin to melancholy, which could lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

But more recent findings on nostalgia suggest it can be good for us, increasing our well-being, making us feel connected to other people, and giving us a sense of continuity in our lives. And it seems to come on naturally when we need to weather life’s difficulties. Rather than being a problem, nostalgia can help bring happiness and meaning to our lives.

Here are some of the ways nostalgia can benefit us, according to science.

Nostalgia makes us feel socially connected

Nostalgia about our past often includes recalling important people in our lives—people who cared about us and made us feel like we belonged. Certainly, my own nostalgic musings are centered around times when I was with the people and places I love. So, it’s not too surprising that recalling these special times would make us feel more connected to others, in general.

In one study, researchers found that people who were asked to write about an event from their past that made them feel “sentimental longing for the past” felt loved and supported, and this, in turn, helped buffer them against loneliness. Another study found that when people felt nostalgic about times in their lives when they interacted with members of an “out-group”—for example, teenagers recalling fun times with older adults—they felt less prejudice toward that group.

Nostalgia also seems to help us maintain our relationships. For example, one study found that inducing nostalgia helped people feel more optimistic about relationships in general and more willing to connect with friends. Another study found that when induced to feel nostalgia, people (especially those who find connecting with others easier) felt more able to offer emotional support to the people in their lives.

Nostalgia helps us find meaning in life

A sense of meaning in life involves knowing that your existence matters and that your life has coherence or purpose. It’s something we all strive for in one way or another.

Fortunately, research suggests nostalgia can be an important resource for increasing meaning, by highlighting central moments in our lives and giving us a sense of continuity.

In one study, researchers compared nostalgia to two seemingly related forms of thinking about one’s life: recalling a positive past event or imagining a desired future. Focusing on an event that made them nostalgic led people to feel their lives had more meaning compared to imagining a desirable future. And, compared to both other reflections, feeling nostalgic reduced people’s need to search for meaning in their lives—they already felt life had meaning.

In another study, people either listened to music that brought them back to a particular time or read lyrics to old songs. These nostalgic activities not only made them feel loved and socially connected but also increased their sense of meaning in life. And, when people read an essay that encouraged them to think that life had no meaning—which said, “There are approximately 7 billion people living on this planet. So take a moment to ponder the following question: In the grand scheme of things, how significant are you?”—they naturally turned to feelings of nostalgia for relief from that sense of meaninglessness.

These findings and others suggest that nostalgia not only heightens your sense of meaning in life, but can act as a buffer when you experience a loss of meaning. And it may help you move forward in life, too. As one study found, nostalgia can increase your motivation to pursue important life goals, because it increases meaning—not just because it puts you in a better mood.

Nostalgia can make us happier

Though it does seem to do just that—to boost our mood. Even though nostalgia is by definition a blend of positive and negative emotion, the positive tends to outweigh the negative, meaning we feel happier overall.

In one very recent study, 176 university students were randomly assigned to a six-week nostalgia program where they were asked weekly to write about a past event that brought on “a sentimental longing for the past” (while a control group wrote about past events that were ordinary). Afterward, they reported on their levels of positive and negative emotions and how much the writing provided a sense of social connection, meaning, or connection to their past self. At different points in time, they also reported on their life satisfaction, feelings of vitality, and well-being.

The researchers found that nostalgia was generally beneficial, leading people to experience more positive emotions, life satisfaction, and well-being, as well as fewer negative emotions—at least three weeks into the program. These benefits mostly disappeared after that—except for people who started the experiment already engaging in nostalgia regularly. For them, going through the nostalgia program brought them greater life satisfaction and fewer negative emotions up to a month later, possibly because the program was a better fit for them.

A lot of the benefits on happiness may be connected to nostalgia’s effects on social connection and meaning. But it could also be that nostalgia helps us see ourselves in a truer, more authentic light.

Nostalgia puts us in touch with our authentic selves

When thinking nostalgically about our past, we are the prime protagonists in our own life stories. Perhaps because of this, nostalgia helps us to see our lives as continuous and coherent, providing us with a sense of authenticity.

In one study, when primed to feel nostalgic by writing about a time in their past, people saw their past self as an authentic representation of themselves. This, in turn, reduced their focus on meeting the expectations of others versus following their own, intrinsic expectations of themselves. In other words, it helped them be their authentic selves.

The researchers also studied how threats to one’s sense of self might make people engage in more nostalgia. Half of the participants read this text: “Many people feel that they have two sides to themselves. One side is the person that they show to other people; the other side is their true self—that is, the person who they truly are deep down.” Then, they wrote about times in their lives when they’d found it hard to reveal their real selves to others.

The other half of the participants wrote about their daily routines and when those routines were disrupted. Then, both groups reported on their positive and negative emotions, as well as feelings of nostalgia.

Findings showed that people who focused on threats to their self-concept experienced more negative emotions, and in turn felt more nostalgic. This suggests that nostalgia helps put us in touch with our “real selves” and protects us against threats to our authenticity.

Perhaps for this reason, engaging in nostalgia can lead to personal growth. At least one study found that feeling nostalgia made people feel more positively about themselves, which, in turn, made them more open to experiencing new things, expanding their horizons, and being curious—all signs of psychological health.

Nostalgia may help people who feel disillusioned or depressed

Perhaps because of these potential benefits, people tend to engage in nostalgia when they are feeling down, lonely, or disillusioned. Many studies have found that nostalgia seems to protect people from negative mind states, bringing about a kind of emotional homeostasis.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that nostalgia is always good or can’t have a downside. If nostalgia makes us spend too much time thinking about our past, it may prevent us from recognizing the joy in our lives right here and now. And, since we tend to engage in nostalgia when negative things occur, it could become an avoidance strategy that keeps us from dealing with present problems in more effective ways.

Encouraging groups of people to feel nostalgic could also have negative consequences. For example, one study found that nostalgia made people more likely to believe political claims, regardless of their veracity. Inducing nostalgia could be an advertising ploy used to affect consumer behavior, which could lead to poor choices, too.

Still, chances are that nostalgia is more a blessing than a curse, and a winning strategy for feeling better about ourselves. It can increase our connection to others, our sense of meaning in our lives, our authenticity, and our happiness. So, why not tune into nostalgia now and then? It may just help you meet the challenges of the moment.

Source: Five Ways Nostalgia Can Improve Your Well-Being

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Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus

The ability to focus is an important driver of excellence. Focused techniques such as to-do lists, timetables, and calendar reminders all help people to stay on task. Few would argue with that, and even if they did, there is evidence to support the idea that resisting distraction and staying present have benefits: practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes a day, for example, can enhance leadership effectiveness by helping you become more able to regulate your emotions and make sense of past experiences. Yet as helpful as focus can be, there’s also a downside to focus as it is commonly viewed.

The problem is that excessive focus exhausts the focus circuits in your brain. It can drain your energy and make you lose self-control. This energy drain can also make you more impulsive and less helpful. As a result, decisions are poorly thought-out, and you become less collaborative.

So what do we do then? Focus or unfocus?

In keeping with recent research, both focus and unfocus are vital. The brain operates optimally when it toggles between focus and unfocus, allowing you to develop resilience, enhance creativity, and make better decisions too.

When you unfocus, you engage a brain circuit called the “default mode network.” Abbreviated as the DMN, we used to think of this circuit as the Do Mostly Nothing circuit because it only came on when you stopped focusing effortfully. Yet, when “at rest”, this circuit uses 20% of the body’s energy (compared to the comparatively small 5% that any effort will require).

The DMN needs this energy because it is doing anything but resting. Under the brain’s conscious radar, it activates old memories, goes back and forth between the past, present, and future, and recombines different ideas. Using this new and previously inaccessible data, you develop enhanced self-awareness and a sense of personal relevance. And you can imagine creative solutions or predict the future, thereby leading to better decision-making too. The DMN also helps you tune into other people’s thinking, thereby improving team understanding and cohesion.

There are many simple and effective ways to activate this circuit in the course of a day.

Using positive constructive daydreaming (PCD): PCD is a type of mind-wandering different from slipping into a daydream or guiltily rehashing worries. When you build it into your day deliberately, it can boost your creativity, strengthen your leadership ability, and also-re-energize the brain. To start PCD, you choose a low-key activity such as knitting, gardening or casual reading, then wander into the recesses of your mind.

But unlike slipping into a daydream or guilty-dysphoric daydreaming, you might first imagine something playful and wishful—like running through the woods, or lying on a yacht. Then you swivel your attention from the external world to the internal space of your mind with this image in mind while still doing the low-key activity.

Studied for decades by Jerome Singer, PCD activates the DMN and metaphorically changes the silverware that your brain uses to find information. While focused attention is like a fork—picking up obvious conscious thoughts that you have, PCD commissions a different set of silverware—a spoon for scooping up the delicious mélange of flavors of your identity (the scent of your grandmother, the feeling of satisfaction with the first bite of apple-pie on a crisp fall day), chopsticks for connecting ideas across your brain (to enhance innovation), and a marrow spoon for getting into the nooks and crannies of your brain to pick up long-lost memories that are a vital part of your identity.

In this state, your sense of “self” is enhanced—which, according to Warren Bennis, is the essence of leadership. I call this the psychological center of gravity, a grounding mechanism (part of your mental “six-pack”) that helps you enhance your agility and manage change more effectively too.

Taking a nap: In addition to building in time for PCD, leaders can also consider authorized napping. Not all naps are the same. When your brain is in a slump, your clarity and creativity are compromised. After a 10-minute nap, studies show that you become much clearer and more alert. But if it’s a creative task you have in front of you, you will likely need a full 90 minutes for more complete brain refreshing. Your brain requires this longer time to make more associations, and dredge up ideas that are in the nooks and crannies of your memory network.

Pretending to be someone else: When you’re stuck in a creative process, unfocus may also come to the rescue when you embody and live out an entirely different personality. In 2016, educational psychologists, Denis Dumas and Kevin Dunbar found that people who try to solve creative problems are more successful if they behave like an eccentric poet than a rigid librarian. Given a test in which they have to come up with as many uses as possible for any object (e.g. a brick) those who behave like eccentric poets have superior creative performance. This finding holds even if the same person takes on a different identity.

When in a creative deadlock, try this exercise of embodying a different identity. It will likely get you out of your own head, and allow you to think from another person’s perspective. I call this psychological halloweenism.

For years, focus has been the venerated ability amongst all abilities. Since we spend 46.9% of our days with our minds wandering away from a task at hand, we crave the ability to keep it fixed and on task. Yet, if we built PCD, 10- and 90- minute naps, and psychological halloweenism into our days, we would likely preserve focus for when we need it, and use it much more efficiently too. More importantly, unfocus will allow us to update information in the brain, giving us access to deeper parts of ourselves and enhancing our agility, creativity and decision-making too.

By: Srini Pillay

Srini Pillay, M.D. is an executive coach and CEO of NeuroBusiness Group. He is also a technology innovator and entrepreneur in the health and leadership development sectors, and an award-winning author. His latest book is Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind. He is also a part-time Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the Executive Education Programs at Harvard Business School and Duke Corporate Education, and is on internationally recognized think tanks.

Source: Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus

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Srini Pillay, M.D. is an executive coach and CEO of NeuroBusiness Group. He is also a technology innovator and entrepreneur in the health and leadership development sectors, and an award-winning author. His latest book is Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind. He is also a part-time Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and teaches in the Executive Education Programs at Harvard Business School and Duke Corporate Education, and is on internationally recognized think tanks.

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More Contents:

Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child

Behavioral and Physiological Bases of Attentional Biases: Paradigms

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders

Updated European Consensus Statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD

Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Differential Diagnoses

Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications

Stimulus-Driven Reorienting Impairs Executive Control of Attention: Evidence for a Common Bottleneck in Anterior Insula

Functions of the human frontoparietal attention network: Evidence from neuroimaging

Bottom-up saliency and top-down learning in the primary visual cortex of monkeys

The extent of processing of noise elements during selective encoding from visual displays

Testing the behavioral interaction and integration of attentional networks

Perceptual Load Affects Eyewitness Accuracy and Susceptibility to Leading Questions

wo Polarities of Attention in Social Contexts: From Attending-to-Others to Attending-to-Self

Selective attention and serial processing in briefly presented visual displays

The 5 Biggest Blockchain Trends In 2022

Blockchain is one of the most exciting tech trends at the moment. It is a distributed, encrypted database model that has the potential to solve many problems around online trust and security. Many people know it as the technology that underpins Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. However, its potential uses are far broader, encompassing digital “smart” contracts, logistics and supply chain provenance and security, and protection against identity theft.

There are countless others – blockchain evangelists say it can potentially be used to improve security and integrity in any system that involves multiple parties sharing access to a database. During 2022, spending on blockchain solutions by businesses is forecast to hit $11.7 billion. Here are some of the trends that will be driving this and some thoughts on how this will impact more and more lives over the course of the next year.

Green blockchain initiatives

Blockchains can potentially use a lot of energy and create high levels of carbon emissions – this fact was behind Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s decision to temporarily stop accepting Bitcoin in payment for his cars earlier in 2021. For this very good reason, during 2022, we are likely to see a great deal of emphasis on attempts to “greenify” blockchain. There are a few ways this can be done, including carbon offsetting, although many people consider that this often equates to simply patching up a wound that shouldn’t have been caused in the first place.

Another is by moving to less energy-intensive models of blockchain technology – typically those that rely on “proof-of-stake” algorithms rather than “proof-of-work” to generate consensus. Ethereum – the second best-known blockchain after Bitcoin – plans to move to a POS model during 2022. Another route to a greener operating model is the one championed by Cathy Wood, CEO of tech-focused hedge fund Ark Invest. This posits the view that growing demand for energy will lead to greater investments into generating renewable energy, which will then be used for other applications as well as operating blockchains.

NFT expanding beyond online art

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) were the big news in the blockchain scene during 2021. Astronomical prices achieved by artwork such as Beeple’s The First 5000 Days created plenty of headlines, placing the concept of unique digital tokens residing on blockchains firmly in the public consciousness. It’s also firmly taken hold in the music world, with artists including Kings of Leon, Shawn Mendes, and Grimes all releasing tracks in NFT format. But like blockchain in general, the idea has potential beyond it’s first publicity-grabbing use cases.

Distillers William Grant and Son recently sold bottles of 46-year-old Glenfiddich whisky alongside NFTs, which are used to prove each bottle’s provenance. NFTs in gaming are starting to take off in a big way – monster-breeding game Axie Infinity allows players to “mint” their own NFT creatures to send into battle and currently has around 300,000 concurrent players (Fortnite, for comparison, has around 3.5 million). Dolce & Gabbana and Nike have both created clothing and footwear that come with their own NFTs. And the metaverse concept – championed this year by Facebook, Microsoft, and Nvidia – brings plenty of opportunities for innovative NFT use cases.

More countries adopt Bitcoin and national cryptocurrencies

2021 saw El Salvador become among the first nations to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, meaning it can be accepted across the country to pay for goods and services, and businesses can use it to pay their employees. According to many commentators, during 2022, we will see a number of other countries follow suit.

Alexander Hoptner, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX, predicts that at least five developing countries will start to accept Bitcoin next year, driven by global inflation and growing remittance fees from financial “middlemen” organizations used to send money home by overseas workers.

National cryptocurrencies – where central banks create their own coins that they can control, rather than adopting existing decentralized coins – are another area where we will see growth in 2022. These projects typically involve digital currencies that will operate alongside existing traditional currencies, allowing users to conduct their own transactions and manage their custody without relying on third-party service providers, while also allowing the central banks to keep control of the circulating supply – keeping the value of the token pegged to the value of the country’s traditional currency.

While the UK government-endorsed Britcoin is unlikely to be ready for launch during 2022, others, including China, Singapore, Tunisia, and Ecuador, have already done so, with more, including Japan, Russia, Sweden, and Estonia likely to join soon.

Blockchain and IoT integration

Blockchain is hugely compatible with the idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) because it is great for creating records of interactions and transactions between machines. It can potentially help to solve many problems around security as well as scalability due to the automated, encrypted, and immutable nature of blockchain ledgers and databases. It could even be used for machine-to-machine transactions – enabling micropayments to be made via cryptocurrencies when one machine or network needs to procure services from another.

While this is an advanced use case that may involve us traveling a little further down the road before it impacts our day-to-day lives, it’s likely we will start to hear about more pilot projects and initial use cases in this field during 2022. Innovation in this field is likely to be driven by the ongoing rollout of 5G networks, meaning greater connectivity between all manner of smart, networked equipment and appliances – not simply in terms of speed, but also new types of data transactions including blockchain transactions.

Blockchain in vaccine manufacture and tracking

It’s now clear that tackling the Covid-19 global pandemic will continue to be a priority throughout 2022 and a key use case for many of this year’s top tech trends. Blockchain technology has several important potential use cases in vaccine tracking and distribution.

In a world where counterfeiters are known to be creating and selling fake vaccines, blockchain means the authenticity of vaccine shipments can be proven, and their distribution can be traced to ensure they are arriving at their intended locations. There’s also a need to ensure integrity at every point of the supply chain – for example, to ensure batches of vaccines are consistently stored at the correct temperature, as is needed by many of them. IBM has created a system to allow coordination between the many different and varied agencies and healthcare authorities involved with vaccine distribution, using blockchain to unify recording of vaccination rates and efficacy across the various tools and platforms they all have in use. A pilot project also showed how blockchain could potentially speed up the ability to recognize where a product recall might be needed – for example, in a case where a batch seems to be causing an unusually high occurrence of side-effects – from three days to just a few seconds. Breakthroughs that come about due to the unprecedented response to this pandemic are likely to go on to enable more use cases for blockchain technology in the manufacture, distribution, and management of vaccinations in 2022.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies.He helps organizations improve their business performance, use data more intelligently, and understand the implications of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains, and the Internet of Things. Why don’t you connect with Bernard on Twitter (@bernardmarr), LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernardmarr) or instagram (bernard.marr)?

Source: The 5 Biggest Blockchain Trends In 2022

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How To Save Money As Inflation and Consumer Prices Rise

Food Price Inflation Drives Grocery Store Prices Of Meat And Poultry Up

The pandemic has delivered another unwelcome threat to our lives — inflation.Consumer prices are rising, and if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this means you have a harder time paying for food, gas and other items.

Inflation hit its largest annual increase in 30 years in October, with consumer prices up 6.2 percent compared with a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data released Wednesday showed that prices rose 0.9 percent in October compared with September.

“Inflation has been a surprising and unwelcome guest seeming to persist at an elevated level at a time when we’re all hoping to put the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic behind,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. “Like the pandemic-caused downturn itself, it exacerbates wealth and income inequality. The wealthy can adjust. Those on lower incomes, not so much. It is as if some people just can’t catch a much-needed break.

Prices are way up compared with what we were used to pre-pandemic. But this isn’t a fun ride. Here’s how to handle a rise in consumer prices.

What changes should I make to my budget to beat inflation?

This is a time when you should review how you spend your paycheck. Even if you’ve cut until it hurts, look for additional trims.

Obvious places to cut are eating out or streaming services. When was the last time you looked at your mobile plan?

Use apps and the Internet to find lower prices where they are available, including for gasoline.

“When prices aren’t changing all that much, people may be inclined to invest less of their time shopping, thinking that it might not make all that much of a difference,” Hamrick said. “Think of shopping right now as investing time to find better deals.”

Supply-chain disruptions may continue to push consumer prices up, so you might want to get an early start on your holiday shopping, Hamrick said.

Hamrick makes this great point: Is this a year when something more personal, such as baked goods or a customized photo album, could be substituted at a lower price?

Put off unnecessary purchases until supply issues are resolved and prices go down.

“Whether it’s an updated iPhone or another piece of clothing to mostly hang in the closet, most Americans simply consume more than they need to,” Hamrick said.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my food costs?

In an inflationary environment, substitutions can be your financial friend.

The BLS noted “broad-based” higher prices for energy, shelter, food, used cars and trucks and new vehicles among the larger contributors to higher prices in October.

Food prices have largely been rising because of weather-related shortages, transportation issues and lack of staffing. Meat and fish prices are going up faster than vegetable prices, so take that into consideration in your at-home meal planning.

Hamrick said he went shopping recently to make crab cakes for his son, visiting from Los Angeles. A 50 percent price hike for crabmeat changed the menu.

“I bought chicken thighs and cooked them at a fraction of the price,” Hamrick said. “Now’s the time to try to spend time when possible preparing meals at home, using lower-cost items as much as possible.”

Should I change how I invest for retirement?

Inflation doesn’t really change what you should have been doing all along, which is diversifying, said Carolyn McClanahan, a certified financial planner who founded the fee-only Life Planning Partners, based in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Through thick and thin, the best way to prepare for any economic environment is to have a diversified portfolio,” McClanahan said. “If you aren’t already practicing diversification, now is the time to make that change.”

If you’re an ultraconservative saver who has shied away from stocks because you’re scared of the stock market, you might want to consider that inflation is also a risk. If you don’t at least keep pace with inflation, you’re losing the purchasing power of your money.

“Where interest rates are right now, investors need to take on slightly more risk to get a return that may beat inflation,” said Ben Bakkum, quantitative investing associate at the digital adviser firm Betterment.

Is there anything I can do to take advantage of a rise in inflation?

If you have some cash that you don’t think you’ll need for a while, consider purchasing bonds, McClanahan recommends.

Series I Savings Bonds, which are issued by the Treasury Department, allow investors to earn a combination of a fixed interest rate and the rate of inflation, adjusted semiannually. The composite rate for I bonds issued from May through October was 3.54 percent.

The composite rate for I bonds issued from Nov. 1 through April 2022 is 7.12 percent, a portion of which is indexed to inflation every six months.

To buy and own an electronic I bond, you must establish a TreasuryDirect account. Go to treasurydirect.gov.

Is there any good news about rising inflation?

If you receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you’ll see your payments go up because of rising consumer prices. The Social Security Administration announced a 5.9 percent benefit increase for 2022.

And, if inflation relents next year, which some believe is possible as supply chains normalize, Social Security recipients will continue to get the higher payments anyway, Hamrick said.

Additionally, one of the few potentially beneficial effects of rising inflation will be that the Federal Reserve may well lift benchmark rates sooner rather than later, and more than previously believed, he said. That’s welcome news for savers.

“Previously miserly returns on savings should begin to rise,” Hamrick said.

It’s hard not to panic about inflation when your paycheck doesn’t go as far as you need. Still, keep things in perspective. It’s not the 1970s, when prices skyrocketed.

“Recent headlines about increasing inflation have been alarming, but inflation itself is not abnormal if it’s not out of control,” Bakkum said.

Source: How to save money as inflation and consumer prices rise – The Washington Post

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Is there anything I can do to reduce my food costs?

Should I change how I invest for retirement?

Is there anything I can do to take advantage of a rise in inflation?

Is there any good news about rising inflation?

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