In a world polluted by plastics that humankind just won’t quit, Starbucks plans on phasing out plastic straws in its 28,000 stores by 2020. Many applaud the company’s decision to do its part in reducing marine plastic pollution, even though the caffeine watering hole will be replacing the straws with sippy cup-like lids made from—you guessed it!—plastic. So how much of a dent will this make in the grand scheme of protecting our environment? We have less than two years to see the results. And what about those of the disability community who depend on straws? Did Starbucks think their decision through? We reached out to some of our authors to get a broader sense of the impact this will have on several fronts: environmental activism, consumer activism, and disability rights.
By Fran Hawthorne: I tried not to buy anything from Amazon or Whole Foods when they were (relatively) smaller, independent companies that treated their employees horribly, fought unions, forced local merchants out of business, and (in Amazon’s case) were destroying the companies that publish my books. So why would I shop at the merged version now? Amazon’s promise of (probably temporary) lower prices at the overpriced Whole Foods is hardly a reason. That’s like Prada declaring a ten-percent-off sale.
By Caitlin MeyerLands’ End recently did something wonderful and bold. Their newish CEO, Federica Marchionni, launched a feature in their spring catalog called “Legends,” which aimed to highlight a broad range of individuals who have made a difference in the world. Their first pick, Gloria Steinem, was beautifully photographed and interviewed by Marchionni about issues including gender equality and challenges faced by women in the workplace. Steinem posed with an embroidered tote bag, and part of the proceeds from its sale would go toward the Fund for Women’s Equality, a backing campaign that supports the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment. What a lovely and unexpected move by a clothing company! Except soon after, they did something sort of terrible. They removed the interview from their website, apologized for it, and as a result, withdrew their commitment to the Fund for Women’s Equality.
By Fran Hawthorne Image credit: Steve Rhodes | Flickr Organic ingredients can cost nearly twice as much as processed ones. The price of solar and wind energy has dropped but still remains far above coal, oil, and natural gas in...
By Fran Hawthorne Image from Flickr user Mr. TinDC Ben. Jerry. Tom. Burt. They are icons of the ethical-shopping world, the patriarchs (there are no famous matriarchs) of the small crop of natural products that made the leap from the...
Long before the board of American Apparel decided to fire founder and CEO Dov Charney for ethical misconduct, Fran Hawthorne had come to the same conclusion. In an excerpt from her award-winning book 'Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love,' Hawthorne profiles the problematic former head of American Apparel, and the long history of ethical lapses that provided the framework for his latest fall.
'Ethical Chic' author Fran Hawthorne on the teacher tenure conundrum, and why the recent Vergara v. California decision could further erode worker protections everywhere.
By Fran Hawthorne #495311811 / gettyimages.com Of all the problems the world confronts today, climate change undoubtedly affects more people, with more potentially dire consequences, than any other single issue. Yet most people, looking at the EPA regulation that President...
By Fran Hawthorne #487818109 / gettyimages.com Why are prescription drug prices so high in the U.S.? Pfizer’s attempt to acquire the giant British drug company AstraZeneca—which finally collapsed in late May—pinpoints several reasons in a nutshell. (Or should I say,...
Fran Hawthorne, author of 'Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love,' compares the recent Credit Suisse scandal against other cases of unethical business behavior.
By Fran Hawthorne Mount Storm Coal-Fired Power Station in West Virginia (by user Raeky via Wikimedia Commons) “Even if Stanford [University] divested itself fully of all its stocks, both fossil fuel and nonfossil, it would probably take the market less...
How should an ethical consumer respond to the Donald Sterling controversy? Fran Hawthorne, author of 'Ethical Chic,' investigates.
Shopping for holiday gifts is tough enough. But ethically shopping? It's a whole other set of challenges.
The latest allegations against Dov Charney add to a long list of complaints filed against him by his employees. But is the company still a force for good?
Save yourself some money and keep your conscience clear: some ethical reasons to pass on the iPhone 5.
One year after Steve Jobs stepped down from Apple, how have changes to the corporate culture brought the company closer to living up to the mythological status it has long held with ardent fans?
The Chick-fil-A showdown has illustrated one thing: ethical consumerism is not limited to liberal causes.
Why does Trader Joe's inspire such devotion, and how does it sell itself as a "neighborhood" grocery store?
It's difficult to define what makes a company hip and also ethical, but some companies seem to have hit that magic bull's-eye. A new book looks at how six companies have connected with consumers on an emotional level.
Fran Hawthorne is lost in a stack of green living guides.