Recently, the Guardian presented a new corporate initiative to spread the word about their sustainable practices and how they aim at changing society as a company recognized by its voice: Living our Values.
The goal of this report is for their many stakeholders to get to know what they stand for and how they are moving forward on sustainability. Living our Values is an annual audit on social, ethical and environmental attitudes and actions, and they declare themselves as the first media company to do something of these proportions.
Jo Confino, Executive Editor of the Guardian and Head of Sustainable Development for Guardian News and Media described it better:
“The Guardian has a clear purpose to deliver high quality independent liberal journalism in the pursuit of social justice. This website seeks to show our stakeholders how we live up to our core values, and particularly our commitment to sustainable development and responsible business practice.”
What’s more, they are ready to go further with Web 2.0 technology, to keep their readers updated and to open up the dialogue about it all through an online community that invites you to discuss what values are they (and we) living in guardian.co.uk/sustainability.
Could there be that a media voicing sustainability 2.0 is just what we need to take best practices, new technologies and collective intelligence to more companies and more people?
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
Simple and ambitious enough, that’s what the Starbucks Corporation is all about. In 1971, three partners founded the first store of the branch, and close to 40 years later it has become the largest coffeehouse company of the world, with more than 16.000 stores in 49 countries.
Drip brewed coffee, hot and cold drinks, snacks, mugs, coffee beans and a pioneer spirit is the product they are experts at selling.
How are they different?
On the basis of six work and development principles, the company promotes a variety of actions concerning sustainability. Maybe the most renowned are the C.A.F.E. (“Coffee and Farmer Equity) standards, related to Triple Bottom Line policies. C.A.F.E. is behind a series of practices towards economic and social responsibility that involves workers, suppliers and local communities.
Recently, Starbucks has also announced their Small Farmer Sustainability Initiative (SFSI), that will allow them to work along with fair trade organizations to increase their social impact, benefit coffee farmers and promote sustainable development, as they put it.
And because they believe that conversation also holds the key to success, they launched “My Starbucks Idea”, an online community where costumers can send creative ideas to improve the Starbucks experience.
The community is responsible for new initiatives, such as the volunteering initiative “Starbucks V2V”.
Nevertheless, Starbucks has been a frequent target of protests on issues such as fair-trade policies, labor relations, environmental impact, perceived anti-competitive practices and other rumors.
Therefore, as much as we consider the company an example of sustainability benchmarking, we encourage our readers to get involved with the Starbucks conversation through the web:
In our search for business models that really make a difference, we were happy to hear about White Dog Cafe from Philadelphia, PA.
The case came to our attention thanks to one of GreenBiz’ latest posts. This is the story of a small coffee and muffin shop that operated at Judy Wicks’ own house, founder of the company. But soon the tiny business had grown into a 200 seat restaurant and store.
And instead of growing wider, Wicks decided to ‘grow deeper’. In other words, instead of scaling her company, she decided to expand conciousness. “We created a solar house tour, offered energy audits, invited customers to the Dance of the Ripe Tomato … I use good food to lure innocent consumers into social activism”, she explained on a recent conference.
Wicks suggestions include an empashis on the local concept and contributing to our own community, and the addition of a new P to the 3 Ps of people, profit and planet: place.
In White Dog Cafe’s website you can find out about all the social actions they’re involved in while you plan your next visit to this hub of the delicious and the socially-conscious.
Amie Vaccaro, from Greenbiz, concludes her article: “On the one hand, the White Dog Cafe is just one restaurant, but on the other hand, it represents the ultimate social enterprise. If all businesses were run in a similar manner, engaging the local community, respecting natural resources, giving back in every possible way, imagine how our cities would thrive! We should all learn a lesson of two from the White Dog Cafe.”
We like to highlight here examples of companies that have become aware of the need of incorporating sustainable practices to their organizational culture.
But we love to find cases where consumers’ opinion and influence empowered by new media triggers the big change in major companies like Apple.
You’re probably familiar with Green My Apple. A couple of years ago, Greenpeace launched a campaign encouraging Apple’s most devoted fans to ask Steve Jobs to take the needed measures in order to make greener products.
The real force behind this movement was in people’s hands. Mac users could send a message to the company, recommend the website to friends with del.icio.us or Digg, post about the campaign in their blogs, tag photos in Flickr and more.
On 2007 Apple introduced the Greenest Apple Notebok (100% recyclable and with the equivalent usage of energy of a light bulb) and since then they have been improving all their products design and showing the results here.
We love Marks & Spencer Plan A campaign. They have called it Plan A because, as far as sustainability issues are concerned, there is no Plan B. The retail company has set itself 100 objectives to be achieved within a period of five years.
To communicate this campaign, they have created a site where consumers can participate and contribute their own pledges. We’ve already completed our first one: to start using reusable shopping bags.
* Become carbon neutral
* Send no waste to be dumped in landfills
* Extend sustainable sourcing
* Help improve the lives of people in their supply chain
* Help customers and employees lead a healthier life-style
They have already achieved some results: a 70% reduction in the use of plastic bags in their stores by charging the customers 5 p. for each bag.
Here you can see a video about Plan A:
* Too many flashy images everywhere. It’s better to keep it simple!
* Few participation opportunities other than pledges and no social media features. We’re prosumers!