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Corporate Responsibility

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Trending Upward

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Author: the Inkslinger

A new article from Fast Company is a good look at all the different kinds of environmental thinking now popping up on corporate radar screens all over the place. It’s notable for several reasons. For one, while some of these changes may not seem like much on the surface, they’re part of something I don’t think we’ve seen before: a deep overhaul of all kinds of wasteful systems that have been begging for meaningful change for years.

Add up all these “ways to go green” and you start to actually see what we’ve been looking for: the beginnings of a systemic response to the climate crisis and other ills born of unsustainability. Businesses are suddenly thinking in ways quite new to them and looking at all areas of their operations for ways to do better and be cleaner.

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Making Accidents Hurt Less

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A recent news story about a baby who died after crawling into a bucket of bleach left me thinking about the refrain, “our products are safe when used as directed.” We hear this over and over and over again. But we also hear of many cases – most of them accidents – where people fail to use products as directed.

To me, these cases raise many questions about the responsibility of manufacturers of products that contain harmful chemicals. For example, why do some companies make bathroom cleaners that require open windows when so many bathrooms have no windows? Why are some dishwasher powders filled with chemicals that are harmful to children if swallowed? Why do some glass cleaners come with ingredients you wouldn’t want a child to breathe if she pressed her nose against the window? The biggest question of all is when will these products be replaced by ones that are safe even if not used as directed? While we can’t prevent accidents, we can certainly take steps to make sure they hurt a lot less.

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Good Energies

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Author: the Inkslinger

This comment from Dani at EnergyBill 2007 came in late last week in response to our latest automobile mileage standards post. We wanted to promote it to official post status to make sure that everybody sees it and has the opportunity to lend a hand to the effort to get the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks where it needs to go.

It's is awesome that the public has responded so quickly to Toyota's campaign against the 35 mpg fuel efficiency standard set for 2020. Delaying the energy bill's effects by trying to lower the standards is not going to help anyone in the future. It's time for a change. I think that a great way to stop Toyota is to reach out to our government directly. They are the ones who are supposed to be serving out best interest, it is not Toyota's job. I'm working for a coalition that is trying to persuade Congress to stand strong against the tactics of Toyota and others who would like to see the standards lowered. It is easy to help by reaching out to your representatives directly through this petition: www.energybill2007.org. Thanks for bringing this important moment in environmental policy to your readers attention! We all have a chance to do something big here!

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Correcting Toyota’s Wrong Turn

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’ve had a few things to say about Toyota’s disappointing decision to oppose efforts to increase average fuel efficiency standards to 35 mpg by 2020. And apparently we’re not the only ones. Nine environmental orgs have come together to create a new website, TruthAboutToyoya.com and jump start the effort to convince the automaker to do the right thing.

There are going to be rallies at Toyota dealerships to call attention to the issue and some full page ads in big national newspapers. Hopefully by the time it’s all over, Toyota will figure out that its penny-wise-pound-foolish stance is driving its image (and sales) into the ditch, and the company will change its mind and actually be the responsible caring carmaker its marketing department keeps telling us it is. Visit the web site and check out what’s up. And if you’ve got a Prius or were thinking about one and maybe aren’t so much anymore, the most effectove action you can take is to tell the company how you feel. (There’s a page on the new website that makes it easy to send your own message.)

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7th Generation's 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report is Out

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Our 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report was released yesterday at 9:30am. It is a web-based report ready for your perusing and feedback. If you have some time please read it and please send us feedback.

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Green Is Gold According to Goldman

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A new report released by Goldman Sachs on July 5th found that companies that are considered leaders in environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies are also leading the pack in stock market performance—by an average of 25 percent. That’s right – 25%, a margin so huge as to be almost hard to believe, but considering the source I’ll assume they did the math right.

In an analysis of more than 120 ESG leaders from five different industries—energy, metals and mining, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and European media—Goldman found that companies in four of the sectors outperformed the Morgan Stanley Capital International World Index.

Check out this article about the report or go straight to the source and read the whole thing.

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Giving It Away

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Author: the Inkslinger

Sheila, our Doyen of Donational Doings, has been quite conscientiously forwarding to me news and notes pertaining to all the cool donations we’ve been making to laudable causes and needful folk, and I, for my own humble part in these great machinations, have been dutifully ignoring them while other stuff sucks up my time like a Hoover with an oscillating overthruster. So let’s play catch-up:

We gave the Dream Program, a great Vermont youth mentoring group, $2,500 to fund the Local Foods Program at their summer camp on Camp Fletcher. This initiative will teach camp kids to grow and cook their own food, which in turn will raise local environmental awareness and greatly reduce the carbon footprint of camp meals. They’re even going to build a clay oven to cook in.

We literally donated a boatload of our products to the Esperanza, a Greenpeace ship that’s now in the Bering Sea hard at work defending that ecosystem from harm. Here’s a dispatch about the mission from Greenpeace’s Bill Richardson:

Hi Sheila. Just wanted to let you know that the Esperanza took delivery of the 7th Generation products you sent us. Thanks again for this generous gift.

The Esperanza is currently on its way to the Bering Sea, where it will be until early September. While it's there, we'll be working to
document the beauty and threats that face this region, strengthen our
alliances with Native communities and networks, and work with citizens,
scientists, and other NGOs who are building the case for greater
protection of the Bering Sea ecosystem.

One of the interesting aspects of our work in this region will be the
use of one-person mini-subs. Using these vehicles, we'll be going to
depths of up to 2000 feet to document and provide evidence in support of designating canyons in the Bering Sea (some of the deepest on the
planet) as protected areas.

Speaking of sending our stuff on journeys, we also donated a big supply of Seventh products to JuntoVenture for their expedition from the lowest point on the North American continent, Death Valley, to it’s highest, Mt Denali. The idea is to undertake the world’s first completely sustainable trek, one that uses leaves no carbon footprint, uses no unsustainable gear, and creates no environmental degradation of any type along the way. The trip is being filmed for a documentary and creating a model other trekkers can follow on their own travels.

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Driving to a Better Brand of Capitalism

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I’d never really considered buying a Porsche, but check out the point of view of Wendelin Wiedeking, who is Porsche’s CEO not to mention a potato farmer and a shoemaker! Here's an excerpt from a Financial Times interview

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Managers Need To Do a Better Job Managing. Me included!

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A few weeks ago, Stefan Stern, writing in the Financial Times, noted:

“New research into the UK workforce, to be published this week, reveals that the British malaise is as serious as any. The online market research group, YouGov, has surveyed 40,000 employees working at all levels in all sections of the economy. Only half (51 per cent) feel fully engaged by the company they work for. Less than two-thirds (63 per cent) say they feel loyal to their employer and an even smaller proportion (51 per cent) believes their employer deserves any loyalty.”

If human capital is our greatest resource, why do we so often fail to engage, value, and develop it? I believe that part of the reason is that it’s hard work that many of us don’t know how to do. At Seventh Generation, we've made it a goal to create the best working experience that anyone has ever had. Without commitment and focus, success is not possible. And, as I know all too well, even with commitment and focus, you sometimes fail.

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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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