Jul 24, 2007

Ethics Gone Bananas

Taken from: Inside Work.
by Andrew Wooldridge.
Consumer Quality Control
Ethics Gone Bananas
In a world where the concept of ethics seems to have gone bananas, it turns out that bananas can teach a lesson or two about ethics.

Dole Organic now places 3-digit Farm Codes on each banana.Socially and environmentally-conscious buyers can plug the numbers into Dole’s website and look at a bio of the farm where their bananas were raised. The site tells the story of the farm and its surrounding community, lists its organic certifications, posts some photos, and offers a link to satellite images of the farm in Google Earth. Customers can personally monitor the production and treatment of their fruit from the tree to the grocer. The process assures the customer that their bananas have been raised to proper organic standards on an environmentally-friendly, holistically-minded plantation.
And food producers aren’t the only ones jumping on the bandwagon. Flocks, a Rotterdam-based designer clothing company, uses one sheep’s wool in each cardigan it produces. When shipped to its new owner, the sweater is tagged with that specific animal’s “passport,” including its breed, weight, age, birthplace, and photo. By actively communicating their products’ origin, Flocks connects its customers with its clothing in a unique fashion.

As the world shrinks, the distance between consumer and manufacturer shrinks too. Customers are taking an active interest in where and how their goods are produced: Is the environment being treated well? Are the methods sustainable? Are the animals treated humanely? Are the humans treated humanely? So far these companies are primarily using this connection to disclose their environmental impact and to give consumers a good story to tell their friends, but this intimate monitoring could bring accountability to other aspects of production: fair wages, child labor, safe facilities, job security, health care, etc.
It reminds me of the words of James:
"Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty."

And of Jesus in Luke 18:
"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly."
While technology won’t bring to light every inhumane and unjust business practice, it does provide unique tools for consumers to hold their producers accountable with. What if providing information about production and manufacturing sources becomes standard? Will your company have to change practices or suppliers? Or will your company be able to say that their treatment of both the environment and their employees is upright and ethical throughout the entire chain of production?

Andrew Wooldridge (posted on 7/20/2007)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for leaving some info on my posts on organic bananas. They are very helpful for us, or personally for me, who wish to learn more everyday. I've tasted 2 kinds of bananas - organic and non-org. Personally, I prefer the taste of the organic bananas - they just taste sweeter and has a denser texture than ordinary bananas. Perhaps it's got to do with how the bananas are grown when it's organic. Of course, the reason I eat both kinds of bananas is due to my shopping budget! :)