SEEing Green - Our Daily Green

Thursday, October 14, 2010

SEEing Green

Social Environmental Ethical is a labeling movement in the United Kingdom to help consumers choose products from companies that are certified socially, environmentally, and ethically.

From the manifesto: 
  • We believe the world can be a better place.
  • We believe that to make this world a better place companies need to behave in a more socially responsible manner.
  • We believe most people demand this, but are unable to make an informed choice about which products and services to buy when so many companies pretend to be ethical just to sell more.
  • We believe the only real way to overcome this cynicism, and hence force real change in the world, is to challenge companies to be transparent and fully accountable to everyone.
  • We believe the most credible way to do this is for companies to be independently evaluated, for the results to be made public, and for there to be a forum where these results can be scrutinized, monitored and commented on.
  • We believe that the more people buy from independently verified companies then the more other companies will want to sign up.
  • We believe this virtuous circle will cause a revolution in business policies and practices.
  • We believe this will change the world for good.

SEE labeling is voluntary and not to be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR has been criticized for being a "greenwashing" sort of ploy for companies to sound more socially responsible than they truly are. For example, as Jeffrey Ballinger of Press for Change told  Corporate Crime Reporter,  

“The CSR cost for Nike is about $10 million to $12 million a year, just for the CSR staff and expenses, to go to these sustainability meetings all over the world,” Ballinger told Corporate Crime Reporter. “They have two or three Nike people at every meeting. That’s part of the CSR game. I figure 75 cents per pair of shoes to the worker would fix the problem,” Ballinger said. “If Nike instead paid workers 75 cents more per pair of shoes, do you know what that would cost Nike compared to the CSR cost? That would cost them $210 million a year.”

SEE what you are buying into

SEE is the acronym for Social, Environmental and Ethical. The meanings of the words are applied in the normal, ordinary ways and cover the range of issues that affect businesses and wider society. Such SEE issues are a fact of life for everyone and every business, whether they engage in activities they call CSR or not. SEE What You Are Buying Into was started in response to the increasing numbers of businesses 'doing CSR' without any credibility.

Our Daily Green wants to hear from our readers. With so many "responsible sounding" terms and acronyms thrown about, credibility and trust is damaged.

Do our companies have a responsibility to behave in an ethical manner or is this strictly a case of caveat emptorAre consumers responsible for researching each purchase they make to determine if the company upholds social, environmental and ethical standards?

Would labeling of any sort sway your purchasing decisions or would skepticism overrule the label?

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