Our project deliverables included an audit of Zero Waste Daniel’s social media efforts, website user experience and communication efforts and ideas for market growth opportunities. 

We first began by developing a project timeline to understand when key milestones should be hit. Our team then met as a group to understand where each team members’ skills were and gathered each team members’ interest. We then broke out into sub-teams for the remainder of the project, sharing progress on our deliverable sections each week. For example, Hilliary L. had professional experience identifying market opportunities for a sustainable fashion brand so she led that effort. Nat D. and Christina L. were interested in developing skills pertaining to SEO and Web so they tackled that portion. Mia and Melissa were interested in social media and Alexandra was interested in revenue growth. 

Considering that there was a mix of prior professional experience among the group, we found that certain topics (UX and Social) had to be researched for best practices more than others. For example, Nat and Christina had never explored UX and SEO before, so a lot of time was spent up front understanding what those best practices were in that realm. This took a hefty amount of time however when it was finished, the sub group was then able to easily audit to understand if ZWD was upholding those best practices and identifying where they fell short. Mia also did not have formal experience in social media so she spent a lot of time gathering best practices as well in the front half of the project timeline. 

Once we completed our research on best practices and audit against respective ZWD channels, we were then able to deduce key recommendations to implement. We laid these out in a step-by-step format so that they were easy to understand and thus, implement. We crafted two deliverables for the client. One was a detailed report that described the researched best practice, audit details and steps to implement recommendation for improvement. The other deliverable included solely the steps to implement the key recommendations to serve as a checklist to use while working after comprehending the detailed report. 

In addition to sending access to the deliverables, we also spent an hour and a half presenting the key recommendations to the client live. This allowed for them to ask questions and provide additional context on key recommendations before allowing them to read through the report. 

Overall, this was an invaluable experience for everyone on our team. We feel extremely fulfilled knowing that our research and recommendations will hopefully increase market share for a sustainable fashion brand led by two wonderful entrepreneurs. 


Each day, 27,000 trees are flushed down the world’s toilets in the form of toilet paper. To make each roll, thirty-seven gallons of water and over a gallon of bleach, and other chemicals are used. PlantPAPER provides a sustainable solution to this problem by selling unbleached toilet paper made from FSC-certified bamboo. 

PlantPAPER conducted a life cycle analysis to review its supply chain operations and develop a more complete understanding of PlantPAPER’s environmental performance of its bamboo toilet paper rolls. We calculated the potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with PlantPAPER’s manufacturing, transportation, and packaging system. From the calculations, each toilet paper roll from PlantPAPER produces 446.69 grams of CO2-eq. Manufacturing is the most carbon intensive area, followed by Packaging. 

Comparing our results to leading companies that make normal and recycled toilet paper, we found that PlantPAPER produced around 55% less CO2e emissions than virgin toilet paper and 70% less CO2e emissions than recycled toilet paper. 

The biggest challenges our team faced were (1) miscommunication and (2) lack of comparable data. There was miscommunication between PlantPAPER and their manufacturers due to language barrier, as it is a U.S. company based with suppliers and manufacturers in China. Moreover, since the manufacturer in China is a big facility, it was difficult for the team to obtain accurate data from some vendors and sources. In addition, it was challenging to compare our Life Cycle Analysis to other studies conducted in the industry of bamboo toilet paper. The functional unit used across were all different; hence, the result comparison is slightly skewed as it is not apples to apples. 

Based on the results presented, the team provided the following recommendations to diminish their carbon footprint:

  1. Switch to a manufacturer with renewable energy

The manufacturing stage was the main contributor to the overall carbon footprint.  The manufacturing facilities located in China are on a “dirty grid”, without much renewable energy in the mix. PlantPAPER could potentially require them to add renewable energy to the site, or switch to a more environmentally friendly manufacturing facility. 

  1. Examine supply chain before relocating manufacturing facility

While our first recommendation was to change manufacturing facilities using renewable energy, PlantPAPER should dive deeper into their supply chain before acting. Such a modification may raise the concern of carbon emissions from other areas. For example, the transportation carbon footprint could be higher if this facility imports bamboo from China and produces toilet paper on a cleaner grid in the United States. 

  1. Reduce inbound routes

Inbound transportation is unexpectedly the third most prominent stage of carbon emissions. We found multiple inbound shipping routes that travel back and forth between facilities. An ideal solution is to narrow down the four current routes to the one with less traveling distance. Such a modification also reduces the number of partner facilities they work with to clarify the supply chain.

  1. Keep current packaging

It can be concluded that while the current packaging is the second largest stage of carbon emissions, the contribution is less than 10% of the entire supply chain.   One way to reduce current packaging emissions would be to forgo the double boxing that occurs with the larger DTC orders. We also recommend utilizing recycled or regenerative materials such as the current chipboard or recycled and biodegradable bamboo packaging.  


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CrowdDoing is a non-profit, social enterprise organization with the goal of achieving systemic change through the power of multi-disciplinary collaboration. CrowdDoing’s projects cover a wide range of impact areas in need of social innovation. Our SUMANI team worked on CrowdDoing’s Wildfire Prevention Derivative project which focuses on creating a product for insurers or other large corporations to invest in as a risk reduction guarantee for wildfires. Our team was tasked to create a Cost of Inaction Assessment and a Preventive Solutions Assessment aimed to further the development of this guarantee product. 


Cost of Inaction Assessment – Our task was to quantify the costs of wildfires in regard to public health and infrastructure and restoration. We analyzed data from the total economic impact of California wildfires in 2018, and we used the 2018 Camp Fire as a case study for potential impact reduction cost savings. These costs were expressed categorically as deaths from air pollution, deaths from fires, smoke-related hospitalizations, medical expenses, PTSD, work time disrupted, insurance loss estimates, debris removal, etc. 

Preventive Solutions Assessment – Our team investigated prescribed grazing as a potential preventive solution. Prescribed grazing utilizes livestock (e.g., goats, sheep, etc.) to consume excess plant material linked to increased risk of wildfire ignition and spread rate. This strategy aims to decrease the fuel load (i.e., flammable vegetation available) to reduce the risk and overall impact of wildfires for the given area. 

Smoke from Western wildfires is coloring Philly skies


One of the main challenges for this project was the availability of specific cost data and empirical data for prescribed grazing. For our Cost of Inaction Assessment, we found that much of the data was only available at large-scale levels, such as the public health costs of all the wildfires in California in 2018. This made further analysis for potential cost savings difficult without extrapolation. For our Preventive Solutions Assessment, a major obstacle was finding applicable data to relate grazing practices and vegetation reduction to wildfire risk reduction or impact reduction. Empirical evidence of this connection is limited, and establishing decision model parameters was also difficult without numerous detailed case studies. 


Our final deliverables included two decision models, or analysis spreadsheets, consisting of the data we collected and our quantitative analysis. Our prescribed grazing decision model created a framework for assessing grazing impact, vegetative composition, and optimal terrain for a potential grazing project. We also provided a cost assessment based on our research and conversations with experienced herders. Other deliverables included a paper review database and a collection of datasets related to the parameters of our decision models that can be used to more accurately estimate impact based on the location of the proposed grazing project. Finally, we produced a report that (1) highlights key findings of our research and expert interviews, (2) provides insight into how to utilize our other deliverables for Prevention Derivatives project, and (3) summarizes our assessment of potential obstacles and opportunities moving forward. 

Moving Forward

Our findings indicate that this project has tremendous potential given the potential impact of future megafire events and comparative cost for prevention. However, we noted a lack of widespread data that will be essential for the prevention derivative development. We are optimistic that more relevant cost data will become publicly available given the recent wildfires in California and increased wildfire risk under expert climate projections. We are also optimistic about prescribed grazing as a more ‘natural’ and cost-effective solution for wildfire prevention, and recommend it be seriously considered as a viable option among other prevention strategies.  

wildfire | Definition & Facts | Britannica


Our SUMANI team had the opportunity to work with the venture capital arm of Closed Loop Partners, Closed Loop Ventures Group (CLVG). Closed Loop Partners is a NYC-based investment firm focused on building the circular economy with a slew of funds: growth equity, private equity, project finance, and where we come in, venture capital. CLVG is interested in tapping into the ‘Circular Home’ space and asked us to develop a comprehensive investment thesis that incorporates the merits and risks of investing in this space.

Specifically, the clients wanted us to extract consumer insight from Gen-Z’s, a lesser studied and target demographic in home circularity. We started by designing a survey that captures their current behaviors and perceptions, as well as their willingness to contribute to the circular economy from their homes. Initially, we sent out the survey within our personal network and received some feedback. In order to gain more traction and capture a wider audience, we deployed our survey through Facebook and Instagram ads. After analyzing preliminary survey data, we decided to hold focus groups out of the survey respondents to add more color to our findings. It made our jobs a lot easier that our focus group slots filled so quickly with enthusiastic and willing participants. From the data we gathered, we were able to gauge a level of interest from Gen-Z’s to contribute to the circular economy and develop a heat map of prospective startups to invest in. 

A challenge we faced during our project was the lack of initial interest to fill out our survey. We found that the survey was too long and no real incentive to complete it. Based on this feedback, we refined our survey to take about 10 minutes to complete and added gift card prizes to incentivize people to take it. Although we were able to generate more interest around our survey, we also found it difficult to reach a more diverse sample size in the US. As a result, most of our data was collected from major metropolitan cities. However, we were still able to extract actionable insight as these are the consumers that CLVG is targetting. We are confident that the consumer insight report and thesis we delivered will be valuable in making investment decisions moving forward.

From this project, we were able to get hands-on experience of the due diligence process to source prospective investments. We also learned to leverage our network and resources in order to accelerate our deliverables. 

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: Clean Bushwick Initiative


Bushwick is a neighborhood in Brooklyn and if you’ve ever been there, you’ll know that the neighborhood is home for its colorful murals, local eateries, and a strong latinx community. But you’ll also notice the abundance of street litter, 

The Clean Bushwick Initiative is an organization dedicated to cleaning up streets to create a safer and healthier community environment. This is done through organizing street and park clean ups, educational workshops, and community outreach through social media, newsletters, and working with city leaders. They not only plan to resolve Bushwick’s litter issue, but to also start the conversation of waste management and community accountability across the neighborhood. 

Clean Bushwick Initiative (CBI) has asked us to develop and create 6 deliverables: a research report, website redesign, Instagram campaign, sticker campaign, and newsletter. 

Our Approach

In order to accomplish these deliverables, we split the deliverables amongst each other into 5 teams. Throughout our project timeline, we have met various project phases beginning with our initial meeting with the CBI Directors to launch the project. Soon after, we completed our background research and split the list of deliverables into teams. Team members that were located in New York City were then able to complete a Bushwick site visit and attend a CBI street clean up event to aid in completing a situational analysis. With frequent meetings with CBI’s directors, we were able to continue researching and developing our deliverables. 

Challenges / Overcome

Due to COVID-19 distance learning and being located all across the United States, about half of our team were unable to visit Bushwick in person. By working for a community based organization to help develop locally specific campaigns and in-depth research neighborhoods, it is important to immerse oneself to understand community dynamics and social environment. Without this opportunity, our team members relied heavily on newspaper articles, interviews, and residential and CBI volunteer testimonials.


By the end of the semester, each team finalized their deliverable. Two newsletters, for the month of March and April, were created and sent out to 327 subscribers. This was a 60% increase in the number of contacts. A thirteen page research report was created, contextualizing the street litter issue and highlighting various solutions in how residents may get involved in. A series of nine Instagram posts were also created to educate followers on commonly believed misconceptions and the true facts behind the myth. Clean Bushwick Initiative’s website was completely revamped with new pages, photos, and a hearth of information regarding waste management in Bushwick. Now web page visitors will have easy access to events, potential volunteer opportunities, and have a clear understanding of CBI’s mission and purpose. Finally, the Sticker Campaign was developed and has targeted its first business. 


Overall, we had a great time working with the Clean Bushwick Initiative. It allowed us to step away a bit from your typical classroom work and it was great working with and supporting such a successful community organization. Thank you Nicole and Kristen from CBI, as well as SUMANI, for such a valuable experience! 



GUNAS is a luxury vegan lifestyle brand founded by award winning designer Sugandh Agrawal. Her designs have been featured in VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Forbes, and are a favorite of vegan celebrity stylists and influencers. Named as the best independent handbag brand in 2018 by MACY’s, GUNAS handbags are sold in over 40 countries worldwide through a strong direct to consumer business in addition to numerous specialty boutiques. 

Online sales have been increasing and GUNAS approached our team to highlight the brand’s sustainability efforts by conducting a comparative product life cycle assessment (LCA) and building a marketing strategy around these results. 

Our Approach

To conduct the LCA, our team selected the Cottontail Bag, GUNAS’s hero product to act as the functional unit. Because some of the data on various components of the bag was unavailable, we pivoted to study the main material of the bag, “Water based” Polyurethane (PU) and compare its impact to that of conventional cow hide leather. 

In building the marketing plan, we wanted to first understand the vegan handbag market, GUNAS’s competitors, and how consumers perceived vegan leather. We built primary research by conducting a survey on the shopping habits of targeted handbag customers, asking them specifically their understanding of vegan leather and sustainability in handbags. We used our primary and secondary research, along with results of our comparative LCA to build our comprehensive and detailed marketing plan.

Final Product

Our LCA results showed that the production of vegan water-based PU used in the GUNAS Cottontail bag produces 84% LESS CO2e emissions than the production of traditional cow leather. Our marketing plan built on these favorable results by providing GUNAS with tools to message its commitment to sustainability while growing its bottom line in the process. The final results of the LCA and the marketing plan included a list of eco-conscious micro-influencers with whom to connect along with visuals to match the roll out of GUNAS’s LCA results and the expected financial returns to this new influencer strategy. 

Concluding Thoughts

Our team learned a great deal through the execution of this project, not only about life cycle assessment and the challenges in transparency within the supply chain, but also about client expectations and project management. The LCA deliverables needed to be changed midway through the process, and the team was tasked with communicating the reasons for that change tactfully. 

We will take this consulting experience with us into our future endeavours and thank GUNAS for allowing us the opportunity to work on this amazing project, and for the support from Net Impact! 


Our SUMANI team had the privilege of working for ING Group’s wholesale lending practice
based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The goal of the project was to develop an enhanced due
diligence process for ING’s clients in the agriculture sector, specifically to allow the bank to
assess the biodiversity loss associated with their operations. Simply put, ING could use this tool
to screen producers and brokers of agricultural commodities for their potential to cause
biodiversity loss before deciding to make them a loan.

Our first task was to investigate which agricultural sub-sectors pose the greatest threat to
biodiversity. Once we had that information, our second task was to create a step-by-step
screening process that an ING risk analyst could use to assess clients. The initial approach we
took was to conduct a literature review and interviews with industry practitioners to determine
if there are existing protocols for biodiversity risk assessment. However, since this concept is
relatively new, we did not come upon tools that easily allowed us to directly translate
biodiversity loss to financial metrics. It became clear that we had to come up with a brand-new

The first major challenge of our engagement was to define the scope of the project, since both
“biodiversity” and “agriculture” are broad topics. We began by establishing the scientific
meaning of “biodiversity” and narrowed it down to the two elements most relevant to the
bank: species loss and land degradation. Next, we determined which agricultural sub-sectors
pose the greatest risk to biodiversity based on that definition. Relying on existing research by
the World Wildlife Foundation, CDP, and TRASE Finance, we found five commodities that are
the “worst offenders” in agriculture: dairy/meat, soy, palm oil, timber, and rubber.

Our next challenge came during the development of the step-by-step risk assessment tool.
Since all agricultural sub-sectors interact with the land differently, there was no appropriate
one-size-fits-all process to assess their impact on biodiversity. At this point in the engagement,
we spoke to the client about prioritizing the riskiest sub-sectors and doing a deep dive on them.
Based on our discussion, we agreed that dairy/meat and soy warranted the creation of a
step-by-step assessment tool.

The final deliverable was a 25-page memo on the five agricultural sub-sectors that pose the
biggest threat to biodiversity. We provided a background overview on every sub-sector,
including high-risk locations, existing regulations, and industry certifications that could protect
against biodiversity loss. For dairy/meat and soy production, we went a step further and
developed a customized due diligence process by outlining the “red flags” for companies that
ING should steer clear from. For example, dairy/meat producers doing business in the Amazon or Cerrado biomes of Brazil are likely contributing to deforestation in protected areas, and
should be subjected to greater scrutiny by ING.

For our team, the main takeaway was that it is challenging to codify threats to biodiversity
using traditional banking methods. While a bank seeks to create scalable risk assessment
procedures without limiting business opportunities, the myriad rich and unique ecosystems
across the globe require a custom approach. Going forward, the financial sector will have to
balance its profit-oriented motives with promoting sustainable sourcing practices. We are
excited about the growth of biodiversity-aware investments at ING, a pioneer in the sustainable
banking space.

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: WeAct For Environmental Justice

Project Description
WeAct is an Environmental Justice Nonprofit that specializes in community activism and
raising awareness on issues of race and health for minority communities in the New York area.
Within WeAct, there exists a branch of educational modules for Environmental Health Justice
Leadership Training (EHJLT). We were given the task of branding WeAct as an educational
provider, as well as market the modules for sales. Additionally the goal of program longevity in
case of a WeAct member’s leaving, the program could be easily taken over by someone else.
The current structure of the EHJLT program is focused on individual clients needs on a client to
client pricing model. The educational programs are for schools, universities, or community
members who want to learn more about environmental justice. Our main contact at WeAct was
one person who is solely responsible for the EHJLT program.

We needed a plan to comprehensively address the multi faceted components to the
project goals. Thus, our team’s approach was to break into three teams: overall structure, pricing, and marketing. The overall structure team looked into how to condense the modules into standardized packages. The current EHJLT modules have 22 different themes to teach audiences a variety of topics from environmental health to introduction to environmental justice. We came up with the idea of bundling the existing modules by topic and having 3-5 modules in each. This new structure would make pricing the bundles easier in the future. Additionally the overall structure team looked into expanding the alumni network and hiring freelancers to help the contact’s workload. The pricing team looked into a standardized methodology for how to fairly price the modules for different clinetelles budgets. Additionally the marketing team talked to many experts in the field to come up with a comprehensive plan to help transition WeAct into branding themselves as an educational teaching organization.

Challenges / Overcome
One of the biggest challenges was the lack of project scope we were given until very late
in the project. It was not specified if we were consulting for the educational modules to be in an
in person format a few years from now or if it would be in a current online – COVID friendly
setting. The difference between in person and online educational modules for environmental
justice related topics would make a major difference in the learning experience. We emphasized the importance of in person teaching or the use of interactive modules instead of pre-recorded lessons. We ultimately consulted using an in person focus to be used a few years from now that can be used when the program is more established. Additionally, we struggled with lack of communication from our client. They were slow with replying to emails and unclear in final deliverable goals throughout the semester. Ultimately we became more specific in asking questions to the client and presented them with our team’s progress instead of waiting for their guidance.

Each of the three team’s came up with final deliverables for the client. The overall
structure team worked with the client to help set up the educational bundles by topic as well as
come up with a more robust plan for the training of trainers network and ways to keep the
program self running. The pricing team came up with a model of tiered pricing with a price per
student variable as well as opportunities for grant funding. The marketing team came up with
five main suggestions of brand awareness, WeAct rebranding, freelance salesperson, defining
educational levels, and co- branding partnerships.

Everyone on the team learned immensely about how to work with a real client in
sustainable consulting. It was a valuable experience working with a team and coming up with
new ideas on how to help a meaningful organization such as WeAct fulfill their goals.


During the fall semester, our Net Impact group worked with Virimodo, an energy analytics, carbon analytics, and emissions reductions start-up originally founded in New York by Columbia Business School alumna Donna Sanders. Virimodo has been successfully helping individual customers understand their energy usage, reduce their emissions, and sign up for clean energy plans. Following this success, the company is hoping to expand their services to provide energy intelligence and emissions information for entire buildings or portfolios of properties by signing up property management companies and partnering with proptechs. Our project involved market research and customer discovery for proptechs and property management companies, as well as helping to develop relevant marketing material and online content tailored to these groups.

From the beginning our project had two main focuses: proptechs and property management companies. In order to make efficient progress in researching both of these areas, we split the team into two groups to focus on each target separately. Both groups began with broad research, and then identified key criteria for narrowing down large lists of prospects to companies that would be potential customers or partners for Virimodo. Once the research was completed, the team reorganised into smaller groups to work on online content and marketing materials. 

A key challenge experienced by the whole group during this project was adapting to the online format. Our team spanned multiple time zones and work schedules, which made it practically impossible for the whole team to meet together. This resulted in communication difficulties, as well as a lack of team cohesion at times. When the team rearranged into new groups for the second phase of the project, we considered which time zones and schedules would work best together to form the new groups. This helped ease some communication issues to some extent.

Another challenge that we faced early on was that many of us were unfamiliar with the real estate world. It took time for us to understand the industry we were researching, which made it difficult to organize our research efficiently. The research phase of the project took more time than initially planned, as we faced issues with resources we had hoped to rely on. In order to work with our lack of familiarity, we started the project by keeping our research very broad, and only narrowing our search for prospects once we had a greater understanding of the wider market. We also had to remain flexible and adapt our plans as we explored which resources and information were available in the public domain.

Despite these challenges, we were able to produce several meaningful, useful deliverables for the client. The team identified and profiled the most promising proptechs and property management companies for Virimodo to approach. We also created a list of key terms for the property management portal on Virimodo’s website, descriptions of several low-cost and no-cost emission reductions measures that building owners and property managers can take to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprints, and a marketing document targeting potential proptech partnerships.

Our main takeaways from an unusual, challenging, but engaging semester were the importance of effective communication, both within the team and with the client, as well as a valuable experience of working with start-ups. While initially daunting, working with a dynamic young company like Virimodo gave us a unique opportunity for creativity. Their innovative solutions and sense of excitement inspired us all, and by the end of the project we all had a renewed sense of hope for the future of energy efficiency.


Hella Cocktail Co. is a mixology company started by three friends in Brooklyn, NY. As a
company rooted in integrity, they wanted to learn more about their carbon footprint and what
they could do to become carbon neutral and, eventually, carbon negative. The company
reached out to SUMA Net Impact for help. During the fall semester of 2020, six students from a
variety of backgrounds teamed up to conduct a life cycle assessment and provide
recommendations to Hella Cocktail.

The Hella Cocktail Project Team conducted a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of
two products from Hella Cocktail Co.’s most popular line: Dry and Spritz Bitters & Soda. From
this LCA, the team wrote a detailed report about the findings and recommendations and created ideas for marketing materials to educate consumers on the LCA process.

Hella Cocktail provided some initial data about ingredient sourcing and the process of creating
their products. Using this information, the team reached out to various suppliers to work out the production process details: the path ingredients took to reach the canning factory, the different retail stores in which products are sold, the rate of recycling of their products, etc. They calculated the distances between suppliers and final products to their desired locations. Two team members then calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of the two products. Although the final carbon footprint calculations are estimates given the substantial number of assumptions made, the results give Hella Cocktail Co. an idea of focus areas within the products’ life cycles to create a more environmentally friendly product.

The main challenge the team faced was the lack of primary and secondary data. Although they
reached out to all suppliers, some responses were never received or were received late in the
process. Because of this, the team was unable to calculate the exact carbon footprint of the
products. However, the estimated carbon footprints can still be extremely beneficial to the client.

Conducting an LCA is a complex and tedious task. Through this project, the team gained
first-hand LCA experience outside of the classroom. They learned about the substantial
research and data collection involved to complete the LCA as well as some challenges. The
team members now have the opportunity to apply the quantitative and qualitative skills acquired through this experience in the real-world.