Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Smile Bank's overzealous marketing in violation of their ethical policy

I was extremely disappointed in Smile Bank recently when they sent out a cheap plastic toothbrush to their customers, in a waxed cardboard envelope, just to say thanks to their customers for being customers. Not only is this an inane gesture, it would rather seem to fly in the face of their ethical policy.

I don't know how many of these they sent out - maybe thousands.

Smile is an excellent internet bank. To save the planet we don't have printed statements. Why then are we subject to over-zealous marketing gestures like this?

The Co-op, who owns smile, has an impressive ethical policy, part of which looks at Ecological Impact. In fact, the Co-op refuses to invest in companies who fall outside their excellent ethical policy.

Here's what the Co-op says about Ecological Impact,
"Ecological Sustainability
There are three principle ways in which commerce and industry contributes to the progressive destruction of Nature and its ability to create resources.

1. We are extracting vast amounts of materials from the Earth's crust which, after use, end up accumulating in Nature. For example, every year, millions of tonnes of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal are burned, producing large volumes of waste, such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The accumulation of CO2 in Nature has been identified as the primary factor behind global climate change.
2. Commerce and industry are generating volumes of waste that far exceed the capacity that Nature is able to deal with. Nature is unable to break down and render it harmless some of the waste produced. The accumulation of such 'artificial' materials in Nature is particularly problematic, as they are destined to stay with us for a long time. Pollutants, such as dioxins, are linked to everything from cancer to abnormalities of the human reproductive system.
3. We are plundering Nature and its living resources at a rate which exceeds its capacity for renewal. As a result, natural resources are disappearing. For example, all major fishing areas in the world have either reached or exceeded their natural limit for replenishment and fish stocks are, as a result, in decline."

So, why am I not smiling? Because this marketing stunt contributes to each of the 3 principles listed in their Ethical Policy:

    Extracting Earth's materials

  • The plastic toothbrush is presumably made from oil;
  • Energy was used in the production of the toothbrush and the cardboard, and CO2 was emmitted;
  • Energy was used in transporting the marketing gimmick, and C02 was emmitted.

  • Generating waste
  • The cardboard is waxed and cannot be recycled, so we'll throw it into landfill;
  • The toothbrush is low quality and so will be immediately discarded, again in landfill;

  • Plundering nature
  • The cardboard is 75% recycled fibre, which is perhaps OK but where did the 25% come from? Was it illegally logged indonesian rain forest (there is a good chance it is from this source, like much of the paper used in the UK);


At 11:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that totally wrong mate! I got one too, it doesnt say that anywhere on it, and you;'ve just made that up... isn't that slander?

At 12:49 am, Blogger litsl said...

Which part do you think I made up?


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