Monthly Archives: March 2008

Companies with a conscience

Stop. Close your eyes and think about the qualities of a successful company.

If you are like many environmentalists, these words may have came to mind: Profit. Exploitation. Pollution.

In today’s world it’s easy for us to get caught up in what is going wrong in in society, and in doing so, we forget to focus on the good. We forget to think about those companies who do their best to end exploitation and do good for the environment at the same time.

Here is what these “do-good” companies have realized: being a good sumaritan is actually good for your company.

Chipotle

Chipotle has all the ingredients (literally) for a successful business. They have a niche, they have a business sense, and they even top it off with tasty burritos.

But this product has a conscience. Chipotle’s menu consists of natural and organic ingredients.

The hallmarks of Food With Integrity include things like unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal. And, since embracing this philosophy, it’s had tremendous impact on how we run our restaurants and our business. It’s led us to serve more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the country, to push for more sustainable practices in produce farming, and to work with dairy suppliers to eliminate the use of added hormones from their operations. —Chipotle Web site.

Learn more about Chipotle’s Food With Integrity philosophy here.

Aveda

Aveda has a superb product and comparable prices to other designer hair and beauty manufacturers.

So what makes them stand out?

Aveda believes there is no responsible alternative to doing business other than through environmental sustainability. At Aveda, we also believe that profit and environmental responsibility will increasingly work together as more industries find out that “nature works” for both sustainability and the bottom-line. –Aveda Web site

Aveda uses 100 percent wind power to operate their manufacturing facilities. Aveda is also one of the largest purchasers of organic ingredients among beauty organizations. Aveda doesn’t stop there, however. They support responsible packaging, participate in charitable giving, and support the indigenous communities that help provide Aveda with its natural plant-based ingredients.

Organic valley

Organic Valley, the “Family of Farms,” is comprised of1,205 farmers from across the United States. Instead of the traditional company, where the wealth is distributed to only a few, each member of the Organic Valley cooperative shares the organization’s wealth.

Organic Valley prides itself in distributing food that is better for the environment and better for people.

A commitment to choosing local and regionally produced foods is a core value of the organic movement. In addition to fresher foods and reduced fossil fuel consumption, the profit from the sale of locally produced foods is more likely to find its way back into the community. Consumers and family farmers working together to support such local systems form a sustainable partnership. –Organic Valley Web site

And all this environmentalism has profitted the company. The sales of this $259-million cooperative jumped 25 percent in 2005. This is an above-average growth rate for even a conventional food company.

So, environmentalists and social advocates, do not despair! There IS good in the world! I feel a wind of change in here and I think I sense the dawn of a new kind of company — a company that gives back equally to what it takes. A company that truly cares about the world. A company with a conscience.

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Support Colombia in their fight against terrorist FARC

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Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (known as the FARC) likes to characterize itself as “The People’s Army,” but they are far from it. Through their deception tactics, the FARC has garnered support internationally as well as from Colombia’s rural poor.

Established in the 1960s as part of the Colombian Communist Party, the FARC has characterized itself as a modern-day Robin Hood – the organization supposedly takes from the rich and gives to the poor. However, atrocities committed by the FARC include recruiting children as young as 11 years old, and sexually assaulting and forcing abortion upon female recruits.  The FARC is funded through extortion, kidnapping ransoms and the illegal narcotics trade. The organization is also one of the biggest players in the importation of cocaine into the United States, and routinely takes innocent hostages.

United States President George W. Bush has vowed to honor US support for Colombia in their fight against the FARC. (While I am not quite sure that his intentions are completely humanitarian, this at least shows the nation’s support for Colombia.) President Bush said the most important thing the United States can do to help Colombia is to foster a free trade agreement between the two countries.

This is not the best solution. If Colombia wishes to participate in free trade with the United States, they should be allowed to do so, but with Bush’s affirmation that free trade is the way to go, the United States has taken a typically economic and self-centered view of its relationship with Colombia. (Many people are unaware that Colombia is a large supplier of oil to the United States.)

United States policy regarding Colombia has often been self-centered at best, and has not benefited Colombian citizens. Plan Colombia, with its goals of the eradication of coca fields (and thus, a proposed decrease in cocaine importation to the United States), has been put under harsh criticisms. My opinion is that this policy, which ruined not only coca fields, but also legal crops, contributed to the support from the rural poor in Colombia for the FARC.

The best way to help Colombia at this time is to help stabilize the nation. Colombia has undergone a more than 40-year civil war. No economic solution will benefit Colombia until the nation is able to stabilize itself politically. In fact, a free trade agreement will likely fuel the FARC’s fire even more and contribute to the FARC’s image in many countries as a celebrated revolutionary organization that is fighting against corrupt capitalist government.

One way the United States can help stabilize Colombia is by fighting for equality for Colombia’s poor. Without the support of the poor rural farmers in Colombia, who have suffered losses due to the American- led “War on Drugs,” the FARC will continue to rally support from this group. To cut off this support will help stabilize the country and will weaken the FARC’s recruitment and morale (many of the FARC’s recruits are poor rural citizens).

Another solution is to discontinue American support for the FARC.

United States citizens support the FARC daily by buying and using cocaine. The illegal drug trade is at the heart of the FARC. To cut this supply of money to the FARC would greatly reduce their effectiveness.

Sadly, it is the United States who plays a large role in Colombia’s problems. Plan Colombia backfired, and the United States is still a heavy consumer of illegal narcotics. While the United States has made feint attempts to correct this problem, they took the wrong approach by punishing poor farmers who only raised drugs to survive and support their families. While the United States and Colombia should not condone those who produce illegal drugs, they should have taken a more comprehensive approach to the problem. Instead of fixing the sources of the problems (drug consumption in the United States and poverty in Colombia), they have exacerbated both by ignoring them.