Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coca Cola - tsk, tsk

We all know that giant corporations are often not the most environmentally or socially responsible. I also have seen a lot of efforts of late from some of these large companies to convince us that they are more "green" than we may have believed.

Well, time to put your money where your mouth is, guys!

This article explains in detail how Coca Cola has behaved less stellarly than they would have us believe, polluting and destroying the water supply of an entire community. The irony here is that the Coca Cola web site actually goes to great lenghts to detail all the efforts they make to be socially and environmentally responsible. You can't have it both ways - either say you care about the planet and act accordingly, or don't care - but don't lie about your green cred just to boost sales. That's just obnoxious.

The other reason this bothers me, aside from the big, obvious fact that there are real lives being ruined through these careless actions, is that after reading "Fast Food Nation" I realized that large corporations really do have the power and the leverage to make lasting changes in the way businesses treat people - but they'll generally do so only if it is in their financial best interest.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I get upset by lots of things, but do very little to actually complain to the appropriate people about those things. So I drafted my first letter, hoping to convince this company that it is in their best interest to start carrying through on some of the promises they're making:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to ask you simply to clean up the mess you have made in Plachimada, India.

I understand that there is a case pending with the Indian supreme court on this matter, but regardless of how they finally rule, I cannot absolve you of responsibility to attempt to repair the damage brought to this community by your actions.

Water is polluted, and toxic sludge has been dumped into the ground, and you are responsible. This seems ironic, given your claim that you “aspire to give back by supporting healthy watersheds and sustainable community water programs”. Faced with such a statement in contrast to the reality in Plachimada, I must wonder whether you actually aspire to these goals or whether you realize such statements will make you more attractive to your target markets.

I would appreciate a response detailing your plans to fix the problems you have created in Plachimada.

Until I have received such a satisfactory response, I will cease to purchase any of your products and will urge others to do the same.

Your consideration of this matter, as well as your time, is appreciated.



So if you have the time and/or the inclination, please cut and paste this letter, tweak as you see fit, and send it to Coca Cola directly - you can access the contact form here. It'll take less than five minutes, I promise!

It's time to let big business know that we mean business - being a responsible steward of the environment means a little more than slapping some content up on a website saying you care. I for one am ready to see some actual corporate responsibility.


Unknown said...

Oh my! I'm a Coca Colaholic, but I didn't know this was going on. I already feel guilty because I buy Cokes in 2 liter bottles, even though I recycle the bottles.

This gives me another reason to "try" and give up Cokes completely. I have cut down over the past few years, but I've not been able to give them up completely.

Thanks for the info!

Melissa said...

bobbi - I've never made coke before, but I have made ginger ale - I found this site that has a recipe for cola. Doesn't look quite so easy but maybe if you have a long rainy weekend or something you can give it a try :)

Robin Shreeves said...

Melissa, this is the type of stuff it's going to take to probably finally break my habit. For some reason, I haven't been able to do it for my own health, but for the health of others and the earth, I may be able to finally have the resolve.

April said...

Hey sister,

I really like your letter idea and will copy it someday. :)

And don't you worry your pretty little head...I sent that letter off to those coke fiends pronto.

Melissa said...

robin, isn't it funny the things that motivate us sometimes? it was the same for me with giving up (or cutting back drastically) on how much meat I was eating.

thanks for sending the letter april! let me know if you hear back from them...I've had no response so far :(