Voices of Challenge
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Ben & Jerry’s
Question: How do we incent consumers to take meaningful, positive action on the issue of climate change?
At Ben & Jerry’s, we realize the power of a single effort to make a simple change can be a catalyst for a larger movement. As businesses we will continue to show our commitment through actions such as reducing our own green house gasses and investing in renewable sources of energy. Only then can we ask consumers to show their commitment. Let’s tell our consumers’ stories. What are they doing that we can share and learn from? We need to demonstrate that changes in our climate are being felt now and that they will impact all of us in our own community.
Question: Can one label adequately compare products' sustainability?
In my humble opinion, not yet. Labels represent a quick “seal of approval” that a product meets standard for quality, labor or environmental integrity. Until recently they have tended to focus on only one or two attributes. A product may contain recycled material, but the process to recycle may produce a highly toxic pollutant. Consumers are conflicted and confused…the good news is that there is a movement here at Staples and other companies toward full life cycle accounting where all of the most material impacts are tracked and measured. We look forward to the day when that product labeling will easily convey comparative scores for consumers to compare cradle to cradle impacts.
Question: Which NGOs and local community partners have an effective track record of helping companies scale their efforts to improve the lives of factory workers?
Companies have realized that complying with labor legislation alone is not enough to foster productivity and achieve sustainability. They have redirected strategies and managerial initiatives towards approaches that improve living conditions of workers and their families. In developing countries like the Dominican Republic, several NGOs like CIPAF are working with different free zone businesses to conduct research that aims to improve workers’ quality of life and to increase productivity. The transition from “research” to “action” is difficult, since changing cultural and thinking takes time, money, effort, and will. One local example of a company focusing on actionable change is Knights Apparel, which is working with residents of the Villa Altagracia community to increase wages and transform the community’s economy.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge
Question: How can companies scale engagement efforts to maximize the impact to their communities?
Companies can scale their engagement efforts to maximize impact by spending time planning and coordinating with the receiving organization prior to the event. QWR never had a grand scale community service project before the 2008 Retail Boot Camp Community Service Event with Timberland. Due to the planning and 300 hours of work, we were incredibly productive. The projects accomplished included widening the trails, shingling the Entrance Booth, Painting the Red Barn, wood chipping & landscaping the Animal Cages and Butterfly Garden. It would have taken the small staff of three people many months to complete that amount of work.