Monday, April 19, 2010

Calling all consumers! Yes, you.

Okay, now I know educational posts are not the most intriguing, but I felt it necessary to share some information with the blogworld. I am enrolled in a sociology class called 'Consumer and Corporate Social Responsibility,' and it is one of the best classes I've ever taken. It is taught by a professor who wrote his dissertation on this topic, and happens to be one of the wittiest people I've ever met. He spent over a decade researching America's best and worst corporations, and compiled them into a book entitled The Better World Shopping Guide. This little pocket-sized book has the ability to change the habits of consumers in the U.S. if only we were aware of the information. Social responsibility, put simply, is the extent at which companies (large and small) pay attention to the effects they have on the social world as well as the environment. The concept encompasses issues centered around human rights, animal protection, community involvement, and social justice as well. Interestingly, social responsibility activism targets individual action instead of groups. That means us! If we avoid ONE product that received a low 'grade,' that will make a difference. I'll share with you some of the information from Professor Jones' book. He breaks up the data into broad categories, and assigns each corporation an overall grade (taking all aspects of social responsibility into account). Some surprised me, take a look!

10 'Worst' Corporations List:
1.) Exxon-Mobil
2.) Kraft
3.) Wal-Mart
4.) Chevron-Texaco
5.) Pfizer
6.) Nestle
7.) General Electric
8.) Archer Daniels Midland
9.) General Motors
10.) Tyson Foods
Disclaimer: the reason that large companies make up the worst of the worst is because they have the money to hire lobbyists to advocate their needs in Washington, and because they can pay the most for advertising. Money is power.

Now for some specific categories--
A+   Patagonia
A-    American Apparel
B+   Levi's, Liz Claiborne
B     Gap, Nordstrom
B-    LL Bean, Nicole Miller, Abercrombie and Fitch
C+   Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria's Secret, Izod, Calvin Klein
C     JC Penny, Target, Hanes
C-    Land's End, DKNY
D+   Fruit of the Loom, The Limited, Guess, K-mart
D     Ralph Lauren, Polo, Kohls
D-    TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Macy's, Lord and Taylor
F      Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Dillard's

A    Ugg, Teva, Dansko
A-   Birkenstock
B+  Timberland, Red Wing
B    Chaco
B-   Reebok
C+  Nike, Adidas
C    Puma
C-   New Balance
D+  K Swiss, Stride Rite
D    Converse, Vans, Saucony, Skechers
D-   LA Gear
F     Discount and Department Store Brands (!)

This all being said, I'm definitely not perfect. It's just something to think about because maybe now we'll walk away from some of the corporations who appear to be great and reliable, but really treat their workers and the environment as disposable commodities. There isn't a single person who can't work towards this goal of supporting socially responsible companies! Companies who take it upon themselves to be 'good' to the core should be acknowledged. Use your wallet to make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a new follower and I love your blog! This is a really interesting post and I actually have a cousin out in California who has worked for Patagonia for years and she is so happy and impressed with the company as a whole! I am so excited to tell her it got an A+!