Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Dear Google we need your help!

This statement is on the Google.org website:

"We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems."Sergey Brin & Larry Page

In the book “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, there is a wonderful section about the power of the consumer to shape the behavior of corporations. (pages 473 -483) Jared Diamond uses Home Depot as an example. Customers were made aware of two types of lumber being sold at a store in Seattle; one type of lumber being sold had the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification and one did not. They did an experiment to see if consumers would pay a few dollars more if they were told how the lumber was being produced. What they found was that when consumers were given the power to decide how to spend their dollars based on environmental practices, many consumers elected to purchase the product that was eco-friendly.
Someone needs to create a database of corporations that are ranked by their environmental impact. There are many different groups out there that are trying to do this but the products and companies they rate are often out of the mainstream and luxury items. What is needed is something more basic that every consumer can understand and utilize. For example: When a consumer goes to Wal-Mart, or Target or the grocery store, how do they decide which paper products to purchase?

Here are a list of corporations that sell paper products at Wal-Mart:

Georgia Pacific-Products they produce- Vanity Fair, Bounty, Brawny, Scott, Family Napkins, Mardi Gras, Quilted Northern, Soft ‘n Gentle, Angel Soft, Dixie

Other Corporations that sell products at Wal-Mart--
Kimberly Clark

Procter and Gamble

Scott Paper

Pactiv Corp.

What is missing in the market place is a consumer is a guide; an environmental consumer guide for the different products that we buy every day. Whether it’s a paper product or a laundry detergent, or dog food, consumers need some way to educate themselves so that those who care about how products are produced and the damage a company leaves behind in the name of profits can use their purchasing power to reward the companies that are good stewards of the environment and who are good corporate citizens rather than buy a product simply on the price.

I don’t have the manpower, money or influence to do this on the scale that is needed to have the impact that is possible should such information become available. Information presented in an easy to understand way could make a huge inpact the market place and become a way to help solve some of the biggest environmental problems we face globally. Google.org, I believe is the best hope for something like this to become a reality. If you look at the paper companies that I have mentioned, can you tell me on a scale from 1 to 5, which company’s product you would buy based on their environmental record? Which of the companies has the most sustainable practices? Google's foundation could partner with the different environmental groups to come up with a way to rate and rank multinational corporations and the products they produce and that the information could be distributed in the market in many different formats.
If you like for Google to consider this his idea, please let Larry and Sergey know.

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