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1.11.2011

Balancing Personal and Corporate Responsibility

I love Ikea (give me a second, I'll get on topic, I promise...). I almost wrote a blog post a while ago about how if the entire world were more like Ikea and Disneyland, it would be a much more pleasant place to be. But me just raving about how much I love Ikea and Disneyland turned out to be pretty boring, so I scrapped it. Recently they have made me love them even more by expanding their in-store recycling to include organics (including food and usually un-recyclable paper like napkins).

I don't like Sun Chips (give me another minute, I'll get there). They're alright, but they're not a chip I buy on the rare occasion that I buy chips. But I was really excited when they came out with their compostable bag. I felt it set a good example for other chip companies (yes, I know they're owned by Frito Lay, but I assume, because I assume the best of people, that once the compostable bag is a success with Sun Chips they will use it for all there brands... I can hope) and other corporations in general to take a proactive role in changing their environmental impact.

So I'm a little disappointed in Sun Chip's recent change in packaging- they have discontinued compostable bags in all the but traditional flavor. According to their website, it's only temporary while they change the compostable bag to a better version.

I'm a little disappointed in Sun Chips. They bent to the will of consumers on an issue that I feel they would have held their ground. But I do understand that they have to make money, and if they feel something is disrupting their sales significantly they are smart to change it. And I also admire their reported efforts to improve the bag instead of scrapping the idea.

I am really disappointed in Sun Chip consumers. Really, boycotting Sun Chips because the bag is too noisy? Has human kind really reached the point where they are so upset by a little extra crinkling?

So I was pleased to see that Ikea has discontinue the use of plastic straws. I'm sure people bitched about that one as well, and so far Ikea is staying strong. I truly appreciate them doing something that goes above and beyond greenwashing.

This is one of my biggest problems with "people" (in the abstract overgeneralizing use of the word). We're adults, but we act like children far too often. "I want what I want and I don't care about the consequences to others/the planet." I hear versions of this statement all the time. "I work hard, I deserve to squander all of my family's money on video games" (not my husband... just in case you're worried), "I don't want to wash a cup, so I'll just use Styrofoam every day." Selfish selfish selfish. It is easily my pet peeve. Leave it to a European corporation to rise above.

As with so many other situations, this is a great one for self reflection, and I encourage you to do the same? In what areas of my life am I being petty and selfish? Am I bitching about a figurative loud chip bag? Do you use too many paper towels "because it's easier?" Do you use paper cups or plates frequently (I use them when I have house guests, but I don't have a dishwasher and when we had visitors I found myself doing dishes all day instead of enjoying our guests... and I use compostable plates)? This doesn't apply only to environmental issues- what small change in your life could you make to benefit someone else, be it your family or the planet?

Once we start thinking about ways we can make our world and our home a better place and stop thinking about what we feel we're entitled to, we may just find we get far more than we thought we deserved. Now wasn't that a beautifully abstract statement?

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