It took the threat of an embarrassing Super Bowl ad, but Hershey is finally starting to act like it gives a damn about forced child labor being a major ingredient in its cocoa.
The company recently announced it would start buying only Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa for its Bliss Chocolate products starting later this year. The Rainforest Alliance is a reputable nonprofit whose certification system will help ensure that the cocoa is grown sustainably, which includes the monitoring of forced and child labor.
Coincidentally, Hershey's change of heart (after a decade of foot dragging) came a week after Raise the Bar campaign partner the International Labor Rights Forum announced its intention to broadcast a JumboTron ad critical of Hershey's cocoa supply chain outside the Indianapolis stadium where the Super Bowl took place.
But hey, sometimes it takes a stick rather than a carrot. I just hope the company quickly moves to certify the cocoa for its regular bars, not to mention its other brands, like Reese's, KitKat, and Almond Joy.
In other positive Hershey news, GreenBiz.com reports that the chocolate maker has achieved zero waste at four of its Pennsylvania facilities. However, I'd be more impressed if they weren't incinerating the 10 percent of their waste that is organic. Why not go for industrial composting?
The tagline of this blog, "Your wallet is a mouth," is aimed at individuals. You know, actual people made of flesh and blood. The idea being that we can use the power of our purses to encourage corporations to behave well and discourage them from behaving badly.
Unfortunately, for the past two years, that slogan has applied to corporations too. Thanks to the wrongheaded Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, companies now have the right to spend as much money as they want in order to influence political discourse around elections. Think of it as a tug-of-war game on a very steep hill, with people at the top and corporations at the bottom. Hmm, who's going to win that, I wonder?
To mark this infamous second birthday, today is a nationwide day of action in which protesters will remind the world that in actuality, corporations are not people—and money is not speech.
It's an issue that's dear to my heart, so I'm taking Micro Mouth with me to help to occupy the San Francisco federal courthouse. Wish us luck!
In the meantime, I present you with some of my favorite talking points on corporate personhood from Move to Amend, one of a gazillion organizations that's mobilizing flesh-and-blood people to fight back.
The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals speech. The corollary is this: people who have money can speak, and people who don't, can't. This is a plutocracy, not a democracy.
A corporation has millions of dollars, exists in many places at once; can live forever; and employs thousands to do its work around the clock.... A human being has little expendable income, lives in one place, dies, and must use her small amount of free time to work for causes she believes in.
A human being needs clean air, clean water, food, and love to survive. A corporation does not.
A corporation has no mind, no conscience, and no motive but to amass money. A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. How could we say that these two dramatically different kinds of “persons” have an equal voice in a democracy?
A person is a private entity with rights and sovereignty. A corporation is a public entity with obligations and responsibilities.
Human rights are for humans. A corporation is not a human being.
I took a flight on Continental Airlines yesterday. Since I recently made a personal commitment to avoiding single-use plastic as much as possible, I bring my stainless-steel water bottle with me whenever I fly. After I clear security, I fill it up from a water fountain and bring it with me on the plane. (The importance of which, I realize, pales in comparison to the carbon emissions for which I'm responsible by flying. But on with the story.)
Yesterday I forgot the water-fountain bit, so when the beverage cart came around, I asked the flight attendant to pour some water directly into my bottle instead of
giving me a plastic cup. She refused, saying that the plastic water bottle might touch my steel bottle, which could spread germs.
Oh, come now, Continental! Your flight attendants are trained in numerous processes, many of which involve a fairly high level of dexterity. I have full confidence that they can pour water from one vessel into another without the twain touching. Attendants on other airlines I've flown have had no problem with it.
As I tried to lull the prickles of rage that crept up the back of my neck, I was reminded of the fact that Green America has just published a report on the sorry state of recycling in the airline industry. It states that nearly 500 million more tons of airline waste could be
recycled each year than currently is being recycled; 250 million tons of that is generated in flight.
And according to the report, no airline recycles all the main candidates (aluminum, glass, paper, plastic), and no airline reports on how it's progressing in its recycling goals. Continental ranks fifth in a list of 11 carriers, with a grade of D (the highest score was a B-, awarded to Delta).
Now, recycling is fine, but even better is reducing, so I'm pretty disappointed that Continental refuses to take this small, easy step.
Have you had similar green-stymieing experiences while flying? Leave a comment below.
The internet is abuzz with consumers pissed off about bottle maker Sigg's admission that until recently its liners contained bisphenol A (BPA). The sad thing is, it dissembled about that fact for a looong time, carefully crafting language to imply the bottles were BPA-free and thereby capitalize on the scads of people getting rid of their polycarbonate vessels. Read Z Recommends' excellent reporting about it (as well as how to tell if your liner is old or new) here. Notably, some consumers who have bought Sigg bottles as recently as this month have still gotten the old liners—a testament to how long the supply-chain process can be.
The blog's follow-up post on the subject is also troubling: the supposedly better new Sigg liners have been found to chip away from the necks of the bottles, which are aluminum (cue alarm bells going off).
I have to agree with Real Green Girl: While it's good to be assured that known bad things are missing from a given product, the important issue is what's in the thing. (And frankly, if it's chipping off the inside of my bottle, I don't care what it is—I don't want it!)
The Consumerist has published an account of a shopper in a Buffalo, N.Y., Macy’s store who was told she couldn’t leave with her merchandise unless it was in a
plastic bag, despite her protestations that she didn’t want contribute to the
wastefulness and environmental degradation that plastic bags cause.
I wrote to Macy’s customer service asking whether this was an isolated incident, one store’s misguided rules, or a reflection of corporate policy—and pointing out that the company’s webpage on social responsibility pledges that it is committed to protecting the environment. I suspect it’s not corporate policy, since one of the commenters said that when they last shopped at Macy’s, they were asked if they wanted a bag. But in any case, the company needs to straighten out this kerfuffle. Not only are plastic bags harmful to the environment, but bad word of mouth is harmful to the bottom line.
I found this Salon article interesting in its own right, but it also reminded me of the importance of having widely available public information about corporations. That’s because, in the story, the writer says, “Leading manufacturers, like Georgia Pacific and Kimberly
Clark, increasingly use up to 100 percent recycled fiber from the
United States.” Only in the fifth page of the comments did a reader correct the writer: As I have mentioned in this blog, Kimberly-Clark is actually under fire for clear-cutting virgin forests to make its Kleenex and paper towels. If info on such corporate misdeeds were more freely available, perhaps the writer would have taken a different tone.
Recommended reading: a scary story in today’s New York Times about a hazardous home product that stayed on store shelves long after its dangers were known to the manufacturer, the retailers, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The cost: two fatalities and scores of injuries.
December 2010 I haven't actually bought anything from Po-Zu yet, but I appreciate their awareness of the fact that many vegan shoes are made of petroleum products and aren't necessarily better for the environment than leather footwear. Po-Zu seems to set a high bar for itself when it comes to ingredients and supply chains.
March 2010 After running out of dish soap, I started using our good old bars of Sappo Hill out of necessity. But you know what? Our dishes are just as clean, and when I pick up the soap at our grocery store, the only packaging on the bars is the price tag. And did I mention the soap is awesome? We love the oatmeal bar.
February 2010 TMI alert: If you're a squeamish guy, read no further. I'm done with tampons! Instead, I'm using the DivaCup.
January 2010 Mr. Wallet Mouth and I both love Pact. Its underwear is made of organic cotton, and the company donates 10% of its sales to worthy environmental causes. Not only that, but the company is serious about eco-friendly packaging. Each pair of undies comes not in a plastic bag but in a little cloth pouch made from fabric remnants. I'm also impressed with how responsive Pact is over email; when I asked a packaging question, I got a nice reply from the CEO.
December 2009 After reading about Skoy Cloths, the biodegradable paper-towel alternative, on Fake Plastic Fish, I bought a bunch for stocking stuffers and my own kitchen, and I'm now a fan. They're lasting a long time, despite repeated washings in the laundry, and they arrive with minimal packaging.
October 2009 I was already of fan of Straus yogurt (see June 2007), but now I love it even more. According to Michael Straus, a son of the company's founder, Straus yogurt "is made, cooled, and set in stainless-steel vats, unlike most yogurts, which are poured while still hot into plastic cups to cool and set." As someone who's concerned about plastics and chemical safety, I'm happy to hear that!
July 2009 I'm using a lot more baking soda now that I'm making more of an effort to clean the house in a nontoxic way. But from now on I'll be buying Bob's Red Mill, since Arm & Hammer engages in animal testing.
July 2008 Started feeling extra-good about buying one of my fave meat substitutes, Tofurky, after learning that its maker, Turtle Island Foods, is an independent, family-owned company (Unlike Boca Foods, which is a subsidiary of Kraft, and Morningstar, which is owned by Kellogg).
April 2008 I'm going to start buying my canned beans from Eden Foods, for two reasons: it uses custom-made cans that don't contain bisphenol A, and it's an independent, family-operated company.
February 2008 From now on, whenever I order takeout or ask for a doggy bag, I’ll make sure to avoid #6 polystyrene containers (and, of course, Styrofoam).