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Wiping Up History

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Author: the Inkslinger

In 2001, we had a problem with our baby wipes. Or rather with the manufacturing partner who produced our formula for us. What happened next is a case study in the challenges that socially responsible businesses so often face. Literally. By that I mean that University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business Professor Mike Russo and former grad student Dan Goldstein have actually turned the story into one that just won the 2007 oikos Sustainability Case Writing Competition sponsored by the oikos Foundation at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The case study, Seventh Generation: Balancing Customer Expectations with Supply Chain Realities, topped 22 other submitted case studies to take top honors. You can read it here.

While we were all being interviewed for the project and reliving the days back when, we took the opportunity to turn on our video cameras and make our own little mini-movie about the experience for the archives:

It’s an interesting parable about how difficult it can be for a small socially responsible company when the right thing and the profit thing don’t want to get along, which actually describes a fairly typical day around here. What do you do? Here’s what we did when the wipe out loomed, and while I don’t think there’s anybody here who would ever want to go through it again, I’m also sure there’s no one who isn’t thankful for the lessons learned.

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Dear Packaging Development Team

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So, I was sent a link about an organism that happens to like maple syrup, and one of the by-products of this 'sweet' encounter is a family of natural polymers that could help ween us off petro.

Some of you might know that I make maple syrup this time of year, and I’m intrigued about this, that’s for sure!

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Secrets, Lies, and Sweatshops

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A few weeks ago BusinessWeek ran an unusually long and cautionary tale about the challenges and limitations of “ethical” purchasing in China.

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Spreading the Meme at Deringer

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Author: the Inkslinger

One of our corporate responsibility goals is to “green” our supply chain. That means spreading our gospel of sustainability to all the other companies we work with so that they eventually become responsible businesses we can keep doing business with. It’s a big and important part of what we do but something you’re unlikely to hear much about because it happens “behind the scenes.”

The fact is that many of the companies in our supply chain are pretty traditional. They’re often not real tuned into environmental ideas and/or overly aware of or concerned about the impacts they’re creating. So we try to change that.

For example, we use a logistics company called Deringer to facilitate the shipment of our stuff from place to place. On Earth Day, we made a little video for them with the idea of turning them on to environmental action and kind of getting them stoked about making some changes. It worked! Here’s an e-mail Tara at Deringer shared with us today about some cool new ideas taking hold at the company:

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