Heroes: Big Box Retail Stores

This is actually a pretty difficult Hero for me to pinpoint. For as many bad things there are about Walmart, it is an unfortunate reality that many big box chain stores commit many of the same fallacies, just on a smaller or less public scale. Knowing this, I keep thinking back to a previous post I wrote, in which I asserted that sometimes it is better to bow out of an economy than to stimulate an unjust one. With that in mind, I will officially crown the Hero of retail stores: the local thrift store.

It may not be as glamorous or exciting as a trip to Target (that is what you were hoping for, correct?) but your local thrift store can provide you with many of the things you might go to a place like Walmart to get- clothes, shoes, electronics, decor, furniture, toys, and accessories. The beauty of thrifting is that the prices will likely be much better than Walmart, and not a dime of your purchase is going to an evil box store or a manufacturer making bad ethical decisions or employing children or destroying the environment. In fact, in most cases, proceeds from thrift stores benefit certain nonprofit or go towards beneficial programs within the business, such as Goodwill’s job training programs or, locally, the Westminster Rescue Mission rehabilitation program.

Admittedly, it takes more time and even a certain amount of practice to find the things that you need at a thrift store, but thankfully trends recycle and it’s easy to find something special these days! I completely believe that it’s worth the bit of extra effort to avoid supporting companies and industries that tear down the Kingdom that we are to be building with our money.

Do you have a favorite local alternative store you like to patronize? What other categories do we need a Hero and a Zero for?

Heroes: The Chocolate Industry

After an eye-opening (and, let’s face it, depressing) look at Nestle, I really needed a wonderful company to come along and save my chocolate addiction for me.  Enter Endangered Species.  You may have seen their unassuming products at the supermarket (though, probably not, unless you shop at Whole Foods or have an affinity for pictures of wild animals).  They carry a variety of flavors, from fruit-infused to hazelnut to dark mocha- but that’s not what should draw you to this company.  In response to Nestle, in seems that Endangered Species is all about making the world a better place!

Right on the wrapper, you can see that the company is committed to donating 10% of their profits to charity.  Upon further investigation (all of this is detailed in their website) you can see that they have divided up their commitment into two categories: local and global.

Globally, Endangered Species is basically doing everything that Nestle is not.  Not only are they committed to sustainable farming practices, but they are actively involved with the farms that they buy from, both by promising to pay fair ages and funding sustainability projects in the local communities.  The company also boasts a formal commitment to not allowing any child or slave labor in either of their source locations- Ecuador and the Ivory Coast.

Located in Indiana, Endangered Species employees in the US are all involved with local charities and food bank projects.  Many times, they will donate surplus product that is about to expire.  Here is the list provided on their website:

Second Helpings (teaches culinary skills to homeless)

Gleaners Food Bank of America

Hope in Action

Humane Society of Indianapolis

Wheeler Mission (homeless shelter)

Peace Learning Center

In addition to being involved with these local charities, the company has founded the Endangered Species Chocolate Foundation, which couples their commitment to 10% profit donation with monies given from private donors.  This organization allows them to give grants to other conservation partners and to better fund the sustainability projects located in their involved communities in Ecuador and Ivory Coast.

Truly, this is a company worth supporting.  Next time you are in the grocery store, take a gander to the natural foods aisle, and you will likely find a section of chocolate- including Endangered Species!  My favorite is their Hazelnut & Currant.  Enjoy!

Other ethical brands of chocolate to consider: Divine, Green & Black’s, Rapunzel, Newman’s Own.

Heroes & Zeroes: An Introduction

As a believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe that I have the responsibility to make sure that each dollar that I spend is supporting the work of individuals that are bettering the world and upholding moral standards and ‘kingdom values’ of Christ.  As a good friend once asked me, ‘what good is it to tithe 10% in the name of justice and love, and give the other 90% to the oppressors?”  It is questions like these that should convict us and cause us to take a deeper look at where our money is going.

 

What makes a company ‘worth supporting’?  There are many facets to this question.  In this column, I intend to feature companies that are making the world a better place- this does not necessarily mean that they are Christian companies (in fact, many of them are not- which should show the Christian business world that they need to step up to the plate) but it means that these companies are holding themselves to standards of ethics and sustainability that should allow believers to feel comfortable knowing that their dollars are not funding any type of sinful or negligent practices.  This could be within the realm of environmental sustainability, ethical business practices, structures within companies that promote overall human equality, fare wages and working environments, response to public criticism, money given back to the community or charity, public disclosure, and countless other categories.

 

The fact is, many of the convenient locations that we spend our money are causing a direct negative impact on the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world.  Yes, there is a famine in Africa right now.  Yes, there is drought.  But is there a lack of food in the world?  Of course not.  Ghandi once wisely stated, ‘there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed’.  I believe that many Americans, including myself, make everyday choices, such as eating a steak or an imported food item, that cause (through a long chain of events) things like famine in Somalia to happen.  But I also believe that, through education about these choices, we can make change happen, too.

 

This column will hopefully inspire you to make each shopping decision mindfully, whether something as large as what airline to fly or as small as what toilet paper to use.  I will feature a specific product or genre, along with a brand to support and a brand to avoid within that category!

 

Have something you would like to see featured, or a specific question about a company or industry?  Leave it in the comments!