Over the last few weeks there have been announcements made by several companies that have left me conflicted. The announcements range from Walmart and Target vowing to rid their shelves of a set of toxins to McDonalds promising to add healthier options to their fast food menu. I struggle with the idea of celebrating what these companies have announced because I absolutely do not want to support Walmart and McDonalds. I can appreciate that offering non-toxic products at what I can only assume will be roll back pricing or offering healthy food options are better than these companies doing nothing. But for me, it doesn't outweigh the unacceptable labour practices, environmental impacts, deforestation and intentional marketing to kids that these two corporations have made the core of their business.
And now for the flip side....I have only ever worked for major corporations. One of which I know you would not like. My job....well I am the one who develops and implements sustainability initiatives. The same type of initiatives that Walmart, Target and McDonalds are announcing. I worked on these projects to not only reduce the impact of their operations and products but also to set them apart from the competition and to give consumers a product that had a smaller footprint.
I guess this is the point where I jump into my big hippo-crate.
Do I support my previous employer? Absolutely. Because I know what it takes to make improvements in one of the dirtiest industries in the world. But that doesn't mean I support any corporation that announces improvements they intent to make just because I know the hard work that goes into being able to make that announcement. When considering which companies to support it is important to look at their entire operation, their philosophies and their historical behaviour. A company may have offset the impact of their operations by putting solar panels and wind turbines on every building, but the fact that they have questionable labour practices and bully small businesses has to be taken into account.
I think that some companies are like an ex-boyfriend. It doesn't matter what they do, or what they say, you just aren't going to ever take them back. But they want you back. Oh do they want you back. For some companies announcements like these are strategic moves to keep a strong hold on the markets they currently have. To keep you as a customer or if you have already moved on to that hot guy in the coffee shop, they are trying to lure you back with their green promises. The only question remaining is will they be able to.
How do you decide when to give a company a high 5 for their sustainability efforts?
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