Water Bottle Guilt (Now with Diagrams!)

January 10, 2008 at 5:38 am | Posted in Advertising, Collective Responsibility, Communication, Decision making, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Personal Responsibility, Responsibility, Usability | 5 Comments
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Updated: Welcome Fast Company readers! If you like the post below, don’t forget to subscribe. Enjoy!

This morning I was reading an insightful post at the QualityWriter.com blog where Phil mentions the new Starbuck’s ethos ad. Basically, for every couple of bucks they make selling this water, Starbuck’s will give a nickel to a poor, starving kid (examples Kebede and Abu found here).

I’m not going to comment on the usual rant material here. I find giving money to poor kids generally good, Starbuck’s and their ads generally so-so, and the taste of their coffee pretty damn awful. That aside, I did want to comment on the recent trend of water bottle guilt.

Fast Company details all of the stomach-churning, mind-boggling details in the cleverly named Message in a Bottle article from this summer. But the gist is this: a whole bunch of people thought they were doing good by switching from soda (“pop,” if you will) to water. Everybody felt good and felt better about themselves, too. Only after a couple of years and a huge increase in the water business, did we question all of the plastic bottles we were throwing away. All this while tension in the middle east rose and wars started and “oh yeah!” that plastic is not only clogging our landfills on the back-end, but it’s a petroleum product to start out with!

Hey, I’m not blameless. We recycle, but I’ll still buy water from time to time. But the sheer guilt that is growing at an exponential rate is what I’m fascinated in. The problem has a lot of angles – the environment, oil and global politics, waste in a country of plenty, the blur between what we need and what we want – so I thought we could use a little visual assistance. Though it is positively not comprehensive, I put together a venn diagram of sorts to being to plot the aspects of water bottle guilt (both the diagram and this post are positively facetious, however).

It features Kebede (or is that Abu?) in the middle of our messy little problem. In what way do you feel guilty about the burgeoning water bottle crisis and its effect on humankind? Click on the image below for some ideas:

Guilt 2 200×200


Last Minute Gift Ideas For The Social Good

December 13, 2007 at 5:52 am | Posted in Advertising, Collective Responsibility, Communication, Decision making, General, Marketing, Online marketing, Responsibility | 1 Comment
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If you are planning on doing any of your holiday shopping online (and I suspect you are), then here are some ideas for gifts that keep on giving to the social good. Forget the “socks ‘n’ underwear” presents this year, Grandma – why not help change the world instead?


I use the BooksWeLike page which benefits my former employer. Just search for the book, CD, or DVD you want and it will display with purchasing options of Amazon.com, Powells, Barnes & Noble’s, etc. You can purchase from the online store of your choice. After you click on the store’s button (on the right after you find your product), you will notice that the URL is changed slightly (i.e. it ends with “we_like18-20). This is how the referral program tracks everything and a portion of your purchase will go to whomever you have selected.

Would you like human rights with your coffee?

Not many people know that coffee is a prime example of a cheap commodity for America that has historically (and royally) screwed over the people that produce it. Since some of the best coffee is grown in poorer counties, distributors have routinely manipulated the price, forcing the growers to produce more no matter what the cost in quality and human rights. My first job was as a barista and coffee has been an integral part of my life every since. (And if you are ever in the Youngstown or Canfield, OH, area, stop in at Peaberry’s and tell them I sent you.)

Here is a list of other coffee vendors also changing the world:

  • A friend of mine used to work for Counter Culture Coffee and I am so impressed by their standards. They fly out and meet the growers, ensure they get a fair price for their goods (fair trade certified), and insist on safe practices (for the grower and the consumer) by pushing organic and environmentally sustainable practices. Look around and then buy some coffee or gear. (Did I mention that the coffee is delicious? If you’re in DC, stop into Murky Coffee – they brew it and have the best staff in the whole world.)
  • Crop to Cup Coffee looks to be along the same vein, focusing on family farmed coffee. Check out their beans and the awesome gift basket at the bottom of the page. (Added bonus: when you buy, apparently you can donate extra to that particular farmer – great idea!)
  • As I type this, I am sipping on some Just Coffee coffee. Both the website and the packaging shout out transparency – these guys let you know where every cent you’re paying is going along the supply chain. You can learn about the importance of air roasting, pre-financing, and sustainability from their website and packaging. (A note about the packaging – while I love that you advertise delivery by bike or longboard in Madison, how about adding a URL?) I recommend the Ethiopian Harrar…so good.

Do good for do-gooders

So often people are frustrated because everyone on their list has everything they need. Use this opportunity to support something good in the world. Imagine you are the person who is impossible to shop for: would you rather have another sweater or buy a cow for someone in Africa? One gift will keep you warm for a season; the other for a lifetime.

Here is a list of groups we support, monetarily or in spirit (plus, most or all donations are tax-deductible).

And if you have read this far, I want you to know that my gift is having a readership who cares about communication and the success of this modest blog. It is a gift every time you send a post to a friend, bookmark this site, subscribe, and vote for me. I can see who you folks are and it means so much. Thank you for that gift.

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