Posted by: hepowers | December 3, 2010

Greyston Bakery – Socially Responsible Baked Goods

Christmas is close and my mind is wandering to visions of cookies, cakes and candies. On a whim, I searched the web for ‘socially responsible cookies’ and discovered a bakery in New York that goes way beyond organic ingredients and fair trade certification.

Greyston Bakery was created in 1982 by a Zen Buddhist meditation group with the intent to: ‘produce quality, locally made products that would give the group a sustainable, satisfying livelihood.’

It has grown to be a huge business with the refined vision of: ‘a Double Bottom Line with the dual objectives of job creation & personal development for local residents and financial support for the Greyston Foundation.’

This description comes from the B Corporation website which lists Greyston among their certified members. This earlier blog post of mine explains the rigorous process companies go through to be certified.

Located in Yonkers, New York, the Greyston Foundation receives all of the bakery’s profits and offers neighbourhood programs in housing, childcare, health and education and a community garden.  Their employees are not the cream of the resume crop ‘with backgrounds that include homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse, welfare dependence, domestic violence and illiteracy.’ But chosen from the local community, these individuals are trained, mentored and promoted which must surely be a life-changing opportunity for many.

The bakery line includes the ‘Do Goodie Brownie’ and they supply all the brownie flavours for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream line.  There are swanky corporate packages to order and individual gift packages sure to satisfy sugar cravings.

And it gets better: all of the facilities are LEED certified and built on a redeveloped brownfield property.

For socially responsible baked goods – Greyston is clearly a leader.

Posted by: hepowers | October 4, 2010

Drinking Hamilton’s Tap Water

Recently here in Hamilton, there are large billboards encouraging people to drink tap water.  My household already consumes a lot but I’ve been wondering about the reason for this public relations campaign. Here’s what I found out.

The billboards are produced by the City of Hamilton and began to appear in June 2010 to implement a directive of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This news release from the Federation provides greater detail but essentially, the directive was two fold:

1) Reduce the amount of bottled water in municipal facilities and,

2) Develop awareness campaigns about the benefits and quality of municipal water supply systems.

A web address on the billboards takes you to Hamilton’s Public Works Department with useful information on their own initiatives and related organizations. Another click on this page takes you to a detailed explanation of the billboard campaign.

The billboard design is quite eye-catching with large, bright photos of individuals and huge captions declaring “I Drink Hamilton Tap Water.” Apparently these are all Hamilton residents who volunteered for the job. I think my favourite is the leather clad biker dude!

The text is minimal, making it easy to focus on. And the message “Tested 47,000 times in 2009” is to the point.

Britta has also been promoting the use of tap water vs. bottled water through various media. Britta’s research explains one of their pitchers can replace up to 300, 16.9 ounce water bottles. While Britta will gain profits from this, reducing the world’s plastic is a good thing for everyone.

Kudos to the City of Hamilton for this socially responsible campaign. Cheers!

Posted by: hepowers | August 26, 2010

McCarthy School Uniforms

Time for teacher treats...and uniforms

Although children and youth everywhere do not want to hear it – it’s almost time to go back to school. For those who need school uniforms, their parents might want to check out R.J. McCarthy Uniforms, a Canadian company dedicated to social responsibility.

Company History: In 1956, McCarthy began their operations in Toronto with a goal to ‘establish a service-oriented business based on the timeless values of quality, integrity and fairness.’ There are now 14 show rooms in Ontario and one in British Columbia, making them Canada’s largest school uniform supplier. The company knows how to keep up with the times as their product selection clearly shows. McCarthy adapts their products to reflect current fashion trends and offers funky accessories from well-known brand names as part of their inventory.

The Social Responsibility Commitment: In 2009, McCarthy Uniforms decided they wanted to become one of Canada’s leading companies in sustainable practices. As their website says, ‘Social responsibility is now, more than ever, the “north star” that will guide our company’s direction going forward.’ And even more ambitious, is their mission: creating the world’s highest quality school uniforms in a socially responsible way.’

The R.J. McCarthy Social Responsibility Framework includes:

  • Responsible Sourcing and Manufacturing
    • McCarthy’s wants to do business only with others who share their commitment to safe and fair work environments. An education and monitoring process has been established to meet their standards. They are exploring possibilities to create sustainable products made from recyclable or biodegradable materials.
  • Greening Operations
    • New innovations in the company include increased use of recycled products in marketing materials, a decrease in paper use, an increase in recycling and the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, installing energy efficient lighting devices, eliminating plastic bag packaging, and the introduction of a new fleet of hybrid sales vehicles.
    • Late in 2009, McCarthy entered a multi-year project to monitor and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with a methodology by Carbonzero which takes exact measurements rather than general estimates based on manufacturing floor area.
  • Inspiring People
    • An ongoing workshop series called ‘lunch and learn’ has been set up to engage staff in the mission. This program seeks results, ‘By empowering each and every one of our employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to act in an environmentally conscious way not just at work but in their daily lives as well.’
  • Supporting Communities
    • McCarthy’s makes very generous donations of money, uniforms and school supplies as part of their community involvement. Two examples from 2010 include $30,000 worth of clothing to Heart to Heart Haiti and 26 skids of clothing to a hospital and school in Zambia, Africa.

Listening to the Customer: Another initiative to be implemented in the near future will create a student panel for dialogue on social responsibility issues. As McCarthy sees it: ‘Students are quite often the loudest and the most vocal agents of change and we recognize the importance of listening to what they have to say.’

So even if your offspring are not enthused about returning to school, if your household is socially conscious and you need uniforms, McCarthy’s sounds like a great choice.

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