China’s Prosperity- at what cost?

I see people happy when Walmart and other retailers announce SALE on their stock. These retailers conveniently dump out of season good onto customers. It is quite true that some of the products on the shelves aren’t worth the entire retail price. However, does it make sense or justify a buying, just because some product is on sale?

Marketing teams do a wonderful job by making most of the consumer goods look indispensable. Over 70% of the consumer base is led by this “Buy things off season, and during a Sale “ mentality.  This group of customers think only about their money saving deals for now and care less about the impact of their incessant buying habits on the supply demand economics. Given this fact, it is impossible to expect them to think in terms of the torture our planet goes through to help them meet their NEEDS.

One look at the overstocked aisles in any store reminds one of the excessive consumerism patterns, such huge conglomerates promote. When companies like WalMart, Kroger, Publix and Whole foods talk about sustainability, it sounds like a joke and a mockery of the earth friendly effort ever proposed/ put in by a human on the face of the planet.

source: americajr.com

World’s major economies survives on the health of their retail sector, no denying that. But doesn’t that mean that they need to work towards being the most responsible as well. Every retail giant claims to be doing their bit for the planet. REALLY? One look at  these stores’ slogans show how tangential their business policies are to their Green claims.

Let us take a look at their Punch/tag lines: Walmart – Save money . Live better; Publix- Where shopping is pleasure, Target – Expect more , Pay less, etc….Retailer talks about Saving green  and never encourage customers to go green with their shopping choices.

Why would they, wouldn’t that affect their bottom lines and their sales figures? Hanging a reusable bag at the billing counter isn’t helping folks!!

Other than encouraging excessive consumerism, these retailer are doing nothing for the community. A classic example would be Kroger’s 10 for $10 sale. Their ads make Stocking your pantry for less seem like saving millions. As part of its green efforts, Kroger conducts a design a reusable bag contest every year. But never bothers to encourage its customers to bring in their own bags.  My question – why not suggest people to get their bags rather than make it look like they want the customers to BUY a bag at the counter. This strategy makes the plastic /paper bag seem like a MONEY saving option for any average consumer.And the entire Green drama put up by the conglomerate moves backstage.

Time and again, I have been putting up with arguments from people about why they should buy a reusable bag when a plastic bag is free? Right, can’t they see that they could take their own bag to the store. No one forces them to buy a reusable bag. Where do these people leave their common sense? Is it justified when educated people argue that they cant make simple choices for the better?

One need not be an economist to put one  plus one. It is known that every product sold across the Atlantic and this side of the Pacific comes from the Land of the Forbidden City. Every product ever manufactured may be contributing to this said country’s apparent growth and prosperity. But all this at what cost? Is it ok to ignore impact of our mindless living? These impacts are no longer a distant occurrence. We can see the aftermath of excessive exploitation of our natural resources and can no longer ignore the way our life (read health) is being changed for the worse. What would take the majority of the population to wake up?…I am yet to figure that out.

Apart from doing their bit in destroying the planet and adding to the resource crunch. These retail giants kill local, small time grocery stores who could have been greener with their functioning. Not only do these small time stores go out of business, but these giant’s monopoly impacts local economic as well. All said and done, do we really need a WALMART in India? No, definitely not!!!

How could I miss sharing this cartoon??

 source: courtneyelizabeth.com

My next article is about the KING? of the retail sector who thinks that projecting a We sell cheap imagine translates to more business and money in his pocket. To hell with the environment and the drastic impact his money making conglomerate would have on the planet!!!

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Earth Day turns 40

Like any other DAY celebrations, Earth day was born in the USofA. It was the brainchild of a United States Senator, Gaylord Nelson. He proposed a day dedicated to create awareness towards aspects of the Earth’s environment. Although, the day was started to inspire people to appreciate the planet, we need to do a lot more than just that given the current scenario.

source: traveladventures.com

Eco and green groups are known to dedicate an entire week to environment related projects and activities starting on 16th of April each year and culminating into a grand finale on 22nd April. This kind of event was first celebrated in Philadelphia in 1970. Hence, the 40th Birthday of “Earth Day”.

There is another day dedicated to the planet, and that is an initiation by the United Nations. It is the World Environment day celebrated on June 5th each year. As a rule, UN tries to observe this day in a different country each year.

As any skeptic would argue, I do not believe that doing our bit on one particular day relieves us of our 24×7 responsibility towards the planet, towards ourselves and our future generations. Being gentler on the planet, doesn’t end with banning use of polythene bags or plastics. It goes a lot beyond that, it is more about making the right choices in order to keep our land, water and air fit for life to prevail.

Wishing everyone a very happy Earth Day! Let us put our heads and hearts together and realize our potential in letting this planet remain habitable. Our planet is going through a lot of troubles already, and that includes natural calamities. Let us not add to its woes with our thoughtless actions and mindless choices. All those who are too busy with their lives and don’t have energy and time to think and live Green, do spare this day and maybe, it could be your first step towards contributing to a clean and green future.

Here is a brilliant video from the Greenpeace archives shared by a fellow Greenpeace activist.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/Ep9MFiWXR8M&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0

Starbucks – Left me alone….and they say – Don’t Do it Alone!!

source: starbucks website
Should we trust corporates when they say – They are on with their Green efforts?…Maybe we should not. Starbucks claims that it allows customers to use their own reusable cups and even encourages green practices. Their punch line – Don’t do it alone, doesn’t seem to work in reality.
Their website carries very fancy content on Green issues.But how many really bother?

source: starbucks website
 I was taken by their reports to promote use of ceramic and re-usable mugs and tried to take my own to one of their outlets. As a rule,  if a customer walks in with a ceramic or re usable cup, starbucks employees are supposed to rinse the mug and pour coffee into it.

However, I was refused to be served in my mug- The lady at the counter said that the sanitation department wouldn’t allow use of any other container other than the one sold at Starbucks!…If this is true, how would their motto to go green ever become a reality. Another report claims that Starbucks intends to reintroduce ceramic mugs and increase use of reusable commuter mugs by 2010. I did not know that they offered a $.10 discount to customers who bring in reusable mugs. If all this was true, why would I be refused when I make a conscious effort to carry my mug for my drink?

I don’t know how people could ignore this garbage pile when they buy their coffee in disposable cups…Does it never occur as to what happens to all this unnecessary garbage
source: triplepundits.com
Statistics:
Starbucks stores use billions of disposable plastic and paper cups, this means an enormous usage of natural resources and energy and then cups land in the landfills and the ocean. The Company claims that their cups contain 10 percent post consumer recycled content. And that, according to the company is estimated to save tens of thousands of trees, half a million gallons of waste water, and several million pounds of garbage. And Starbucks claims to be the pioneer in promoting recycled cups in the beverage retailing industry.
Visit this link on their website to learn more about their programs – Link  
Reality:
Did you know that FDA (Food & Drug administration, USA) does not support use of recycled material in food retailing industry? Another very important aspect in terms of recycling – Paper cups lined with wax /plastic to hold liquids cannot be recycled in most recycling plants/systems. I am really not sure if Starbucks can ever achieve its target of making all of its cups recyclable by 2012. Corporate GREEN team says that the company is requesting its customers to bring in their own reusable cups or tumblers in order to meet their recycling goal set for the year 2012. Frankly, I am yet to see one single customer buying his or her coffee in their own mug! So in which part of the world are they pushing their Green ideas then?
Whatz really happening
With over 16,000 retailing locations, it is difficult to claim consistency in their efforts. It is definitely difficult for a company with so many globally disperse franchisees to efficiently and effectively implement a recycling strategy. The least they could do is to support conscious consumers like myself.
Money matter a lot to people sitting in the Shareholder boards…blind that they are to any crisis around them, it is a disgrace that the company’s shareholders voted down Starbuck’s proposal to increase recycling efforts. ( I am sure Seattle Times would be faking this news ). And why did they make this brilliant decision? Because the finance guys have to create WEALTH for their shareholders!! (really??)
Although the company seems to have started offering discounts to consumers who bring in their own cup since 1985, how come we do not see anything happening on that front? Isn’t the non green population just living to save money or just Enjoy their life?…I am sure if they were given a chance to save a few cents… at least a few of them would oblige to bring their own mugs (for the amount of coffee consumed in the world, specially in the US) It would make a significant difference in terms of number of disposable (plastic and paper) cups used. What amazes me is that the consumer who is aware that he should not buy hot drinks in a plastic cup refuses to think one step beyond and reduce use of paper cups.
Statistics…again!
Starbucks claims that in 2009, over 26 million customers brought their own tumblers for their cup of Joe…(really!!). This means a meager 1.5% shift from use of disposables and that translated to saving a whopping 1.2 million pounds of paper from being consumed. If this was true, imagine the amount which goes into the landfill due to the million of cups still being used…phew!!…Do you really think you cant make your own cup at home or at least carry your own mug to the café. The least you could do is to choose using their ceramic mugs and have your coffee in store and not bother walking around the mall with your fancy disposable cup.
Another very important aspect of this Industry has not even been discussed yet – The coffee Growing /processing industry and its impact on environment. That makes an interesting topic for a new article altogether!
Painful changes in the Indian scene…
What bothers me is India’s growing and booming Cafe culture. Cafe Coffee Day, Barista etc have become a fashion statement of sorts with the Indian Population. I do not have anything any particular brand or product, what pains is the lack of common sense and basic thought towards the impact of every cultural shift
India is going through!
Think before you THINK it is HEP to go to a Cafe and order your coffee in a disposable cup. Think of going green with your choices and let the planet remain habitable!