Sunday, August 30, 2009

You have more power than you think

My friend Lori gave me a book called “The better world shopping guide”. It is based on the premise that every time you make a purchase you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. The book goes on to rank companies in different categories so you can decide which ones you want to support (by buying their products.)

The main issues are human rights (for example, child labor or fair wages), the environment (such as toxic waste dumping, sustainable farming), animal protection (humane treatment, ecosystem impact), community involvement (volunteer efforts, local business support) and social justice (cover ups, harassment, class action lawsuits).

Here is a list of the 10 best companies on the planet based on their social and environmental records: Seventh Generation, Working Assets, Eden Foods, Organic Valley, Clif Bar, Honest Tea, Patagonia, Tom’s of Main, Ben &Jerry’s, Aveda.

There are many companies out there that need to clean up their acts whose names won’t shock anyone (Walmart, Tyson Foods, Kraft) but others that surprised me: United Airlines, Samsung, Nestle, Nabisco, Planters. Gerber, for example, won the “most irresponsible” corporation award and is involved in a child slavery lawsuit, as well as aggressive takeovers of family farms. Chapstick is on the list of “top 100 corporate criminals”. There is evidence that M&M’s suppliers use child slave labor.

In most cases, it’s a matter of being informed and switching from one brand to another. Take cereal: Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat and Grape Nuts have an “F” raking, while Cascadian Farm has a B+, for example. Kashi could do much better and is currently a C. Or Chocolate: Toblerone ranks F, while Dagoba ranks A.

The reason I liked this book so much is because it reminds me that as a consumer we have more power than we think. With this information, we are in a better position to use it.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

I confess

I love talent shows. I know they are orchestrated to make for good television but they are also, despite the artifice, an honest manifestation of the good and the bad in human nature. Naked, undisguised ambition. Frequent and alarming examples of a complete lack of self-awareness. An expert judge anointing someone with what we all secretly dream of hearing: Yes. I confirm your suspicions. You have a gift. This is what you were meant to do. The process of watching someone come into full bloom. Most of all, the excessive, joyous, almost overwhelming amount of talent in the world. The fact that there is no shortage of that fills me with hope.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Many times

I dreamed that I went to Starbucks (which I haven't done for more than a year) and ordered a tall latte (not normally what I would order.)

I placed the white cup inside my tote, nestled between a stack of books and the outer corner of the bag. (You know what is about to happen, right?)

After carrying it all to my destination, I arrive to find the liquid has spilled, staining the canvas and ruining the contents. (Oh, my bag! Oh, my books!)

I woke up relieved that it was only a dream. And, not really needing anyone to analyze it. How many times do I do something despite knowing full well the outcome can’t possibly be good?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Razor wire

I find razor wire riveting.

I suspect the reason for my fascination is that the messages it sends (me) are completely incongruous.

Cruel (I’d rather see you shredded beyond recognition than trespassing) aggressive (try jumping over this and it will cut you), yet highly ineffective.

If I really wanted to get through, I’d use wire cutters and snip myself a door at the bottom rather than try to climb over to the other side. Granted, I’ve never tried doing that so I don’t really know how difficult it would be or how long it would take.

I guess its intent is to dissuade (don’t even try to come in here. Look how dangerous I am!) but it has the opposite effect on me. I find it strangely enticing (I bet I could outsmart you, you unsightly, mean, curly sharp thing you.)