Monday, February 27, 2006

An ethical cuppa PG Tips?

When I was growing up, this company used to use chimps to advertise their products. Now Jason Nisse reports in The Independent that PG Tips are launching an Ethical Tea Partnership which, along with other tea brands Tetley and Twinings, will set an ethical code for tea growers.

Ethical fashion from M&S, Topshop and Oasis

Brand Republic reports that M&S, Topshop and Oasis are all launching ethical clothing and notes that this is likely to impact on other sectors.

Ethical living put to the test

The Independent writer, Kate Finnigan, tries to live ethically for a week and finds it needs dedication and stamina. I can imagine. I live in the same neighbourhood and we aren't exactly falling over organic and fairtrade outlets.

Scarlett launches Red

The Sunday Times gets excited over the imminent launch of RED by Bono and business partner.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BP commands respect

Another article in today's FT reports that BP's commitment to the environment has won it's chief executive Lord Browne respect from other CEOs.

The FT launches ethical banking awards

The Financial Times today reports they are launching annual Sustainable Banking Awards. This move will further increase focus on sustainability and social responsibility in business.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Coco Pops kids products are criticised

Meanwhile Coco Pops is criticised for producing ads that are misleading, claiming Coco Pops straws will help kids drink more milk.

Mars launches healthy chocolate

Mars announces launch of Cocoavia in the US, a chocolate bar that claims to help keep people's hearts healthy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ethical investments

From last year, but liked this article from The Guardian, "Wealthy Britons go green". Suggests the wealthy have the means to make more ethical choices.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The "Supersize Me for Asda"

A business update with Rebecca Marston. on Radio 4 Today programme talks to the producer of "The high cost of low price". Billed as "the Supersize Me for Asda", the store responds by saying that it is engaging with it's detractors and addressing their concerns directly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oasis launches ethical range

High street fashion chain Oasis announces that it will launch Future Organics range.

Consumers confused about ethical coffee

Reuters reports that consumers are confused by growing number of choices in the coffee market. Nestlé's Nescafé Partners' Blend and Kraft's Kenco Sustainable Development have recently entered the market. Although their websites provide information about the schemes, it seems consumers aren't yet clear on what buying these products means for the producers.

Observer awards

The Observer teams with Ecover to launch Ethical Awards 2006. Companies are nominated by readers for awards including "Ethical retailer of the year".

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Unilever India Shakti scheme

Hindustan Lever Limited in India have created a scheme that they claim benefits both sales and the community. Called Shakti (it means 'empowerment') it is a programme for women in rural India. The women can increase their income by helping to sell Unilever products to rural communities.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

DTI funded report says customers mislead

The Sunday Times reports customers alienated by well-known companies. Consumers say they are mistreated and misled by advertising and promotions. Everyone has their own example, but it's the disparity between what's promised and what's delivered that causes the most aggravation and disappointment. Tell that to my 'favourite airline'.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Be treatwise

Cadbury and Mars support £10m communication programme to give lifestyle advice (minimum amount exercise per day and recommended daily fat intake) on their chocolate bars. This is intended to 'help people enjoy our products as part of their diet'. As a response to criticism for heavy promotion of chocolate snacks in the light of growing obesity, especially amongst children, the message is presumably intended to encourage people to consume these products in moderation.

Whether the public will take any notice is another thing. Many alcohol brands already carry a 'enjoy our product sensibly' message, yet we are led to believe that binge drinking is still rife. However, health warnings on cigarette packets have been shown to have a dicouraging effect on smoking, especially the bigger, more colourful and intelligible the message (although this was not an initiative by the tobacco companies).

I am not about to put chocolate in the same league as booze and fags, but there is a seemingly common dilemma across them all. An immediate cynical response could be, 'People won't take any notice of these labels anyway and companies wouldn't really want them to because it would affect sales.' In the short term, perhaps. But if people become ill or die as a direct result of the products they (over)consume, not only do they lose these customers, but companies are branded 'irresponsible' and lose far greater business still. And this is to presume only self-interest on behalf of companies and not genuine concern for the wellbeing of their customers in itself. Perhaps the only objective test of this is to see what comapnies will do should the message not have the expressed intention of encouraging moderate consumption.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's Capitalism or the Planet

Via Guardian Unlimited .

Richard Newman argues that our current economic system and a habitable planet are mutually incompatible. Capitalism, he argues, is predicated on ever-increasing markets and profits which are unsustainable in terms of the natural resources needed to produce them. Capitalism also tends toward the concentration of power, something that he contends needs to be broken up if we are to survive as a species - he uses the example of small, community energy collectives versus the major suppliers as an example of this.

It is true that the current economic system is unsustainable, but whether this is extendable to Capitalism as a whole is questionable. Although Newman dismisses 'green capitalism' as weak, there is an argument for a reward-based economic system that returns profit for those that provide society with want it wants. As society becomes more environmentally aware, consumers will no longer demand products & services at any cost (i.e. cost to the environment and human welfare). Companies must compete according to a re-written contract, where all true costs are factored into the equation.

That is neither an excuse for business to just wait around to react to consumer demand, nor allowing the government to be let off from playing its regulatory part, but it is to say that the system can be adapted and is adapting. Newman's contention may be that it is not adapting fast enough.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Conservative party calls for corporate responsibility

Conservatives call for the private sector to act in a more socially responsible way. In a BBC Radio 4 interview, David Cameron says, "I think many businesses want to do more in terms of social problems and the environment," the party leader claimed. He pointed to Nike and BSkyB's sport initiatives as a "huge growth area".