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Things are mooooving along...

It’s Monday - again.

How does that keep happening?

Things at my job are not ideal, and they keep adding people to my desk without adding money to my paycheck. The most recent move (to add 4 people and 20 hours of work to my desk, while I am still forbidden to get overtime) is ridiculous and I am done. I plan to either switch departments soon, or will leave this company as soon as I can find something different. Things are "up in the air" right now, and my favorite boss is on a 2-week vacation, so we’ll see how things play out in the next few weeks.

In the mean time, there has been some good news on the "cause" front, as two major causes that I have supported have had positive shifts.

First, BP (British Petroleum) has said that it won’t increase toxic dumping from The Whiting Oil Refinery into Lake Michigan (though, thanks to Indiana, they have a permit allowing them to do so). I have my skepticism about BP keeping its promises, but I am hopeful that our voices did make a difference.

The second cause is a bit of food activism that I have engaged on a couple of levels. I used to be a big Starbuck’s (SB) fan; a daily supporter in fact, until I began to change my relationship to spending. I am a coffee-whore, and before I was worried about corporations driving out small indy-shops, I frequented SB seeing some of their positive programs such as benefits and 401(k) for their employees, their clean water program and their "free coffee grounds to gardeners" program.

Despite these positive actions, I was very troubled by the fact that when I would stop by Starbuck’s and would hand them my travel cup to fill, they would often take a paper cup and would mark it with my drink order. That cup would then get thrown into the garbage once my drink was made, rendering my efforts with a travel mug as moot.

That just pissed me off.

In addition, (thanks to my friend Marta), I began to learn that many folks were out there asking SB to switch to milk that is free of artificial hormones, and SB was refusing. Today, thanks to groups like Cows Unite and Food and Water Watch SB announced that all of the milk served in its U.S. stores will be rBGH*-free by December 31, 2007.

I still prefer the indy-coffee shops I’ve found, especially those that serve fair-trade, organic coffee - but it’s nice to see things "moooo-ving" in a direction that is healthier for humans, cows and the planet.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
I was wondering what was up re: BP and whether that is "Good Enough" or if they should still be boycotted. I did manage to avoid them since I saw your previous post.

It's interesting that you mentioned Starbucks.

I had a long chat with someone who manages a Starbucks about their corporate evil or lack thereof. They do have great benefits and seem to treat their employees well. (You forgot to mention the stock ownership plus free pound of coffee/week.) But my primary concern was whether they are putting mom-and-pop shops out of business. What I heard was interesting. Again, it's from a biased source, and I'm not fully sure that I agree, but it is food for thought.

Starbucks has a huge Achilles heel: Lack of variety due to corporate uniformity. They have a fixed menu, and that's it. They can't be agile to respond to customer demand. Any mom-and-pop coffee shop that wants to be innovative can easily produce a substantially better product and attract a loyal customer base. The shops that go out of business are ones that don't innovate and don't do better than Starbucks.

Also, I found this hard to believe (seeing as there's a Starbucks on every corner in the loop), but some cities, as a whole, aren't big on coffee. The presence of Starbucks in a new city can actually help mom-and-pop shops if it encourages people to drink more coffee.
Aug. 27th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
I hear what you are saying, and I think as with many issues – there are a lot of shades of grey. I think in many ways STBX is trying to have a positive impact, and sometimes is falling short of that.

They do regularly pay higher prices for what they call “sustainable coffee” which affects up to 50% of the coffee they sell, and supposedly about 20% of coffee products are fair trade. I think this statistic could be used to either praise or demonize STBX. After all it is great that they are buying some fair trade coffee and are helping to get more money to the coffee farmers – but just think of the overwhelming impact they could have if they increased their commitment to fair trade? Yes, a price increase would get passed to the customers – but I’d pay more to know that my morning Joe wasn’t haven’t a negative impact on other human beings and on our world. (You can see more about these issues and take action @ http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/coffee/starbucks.html)

In 2005, STBX also joined the Green Power Partnership and committed to purchase enough green power to cover 5 percent of their retail energy needs in North America, cutting CO2 emissions by 2 percent. Expanding on the success of its commitment in 2005, Starbucks has increased its green power commitment to 20 percent in 2006.

So where do they fall on the “green” spectrum? Does any of that balance their “cannibalism” of smaller, family-owed coffee shop?

When I went to my first witch camp, I carried the only water bottle I owned, which was a freebie bottle given to me by the STBX location near my office. Of course, it had the STBX logo on it. I got no end of comments from the witches about the bottle, about STBX and I began to get a little pissed. I chose to use something that was given to me for free rather than going out to buy a new water bottle (even though the STBX bottle was smaller, leaked a bit and didn’t have a travel strap) – which was my way of standing in my values. I didn’t mean a thing to me that there was a label on my bottle – I was just thinking I had done a great thing by using what was around me rather than shopping for new items.

With all of these kinds of issues I keep coming back to a standard that works for me. There are a lot of shades of gray, there is a lot of paradox and sometimes it feels hard to make a choice. So I try to get informed and make choices as best I can, recognizing that a totally green, “off-the-grid” lifestyle is not possible for me right now. So I take what steps I can – and watch those steps add up.

Aug. 27th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
It’s Monday…again.

How does that keep happening?

If you want to call a boycott of Mondays, I'm in. Just saying.
Aug. 28th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
Boycott Mondays...
Hmmm...do you think a boycott would work? If so, I think I could get lots of folks on board for that cause!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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