Thursday, November 18, 2010

LA County Pushing to Ban Plastic Bags

It’s finally happening! Two days ago, on November 16th, 2010, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took the first step to ban single-use plastic bags. The final ordinance will be come up for a vote next week!

If approved, beginning in July 2011, sixty-seven supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, and drug stores in the unincorporated county area must discontinue providing plastic bags at check-out counters. By January 2012, the ban will cover 1,000 stores throughout the county. Even more progressive than San Francisco, the ordinance will also place a 10-cent surcharge on paper bags to deter shoppers from turning to other disposable bags.

Interestingly enough, the American Chemistry Council (consisting of members who make plastic bags) have already sought to use the recently passed Prop. 26 (refer to my previous blog post for more information on this initiative) to prevent the 10-cent fee from becoming enacted. Tricky tricky ACC, but the 10-cent charge would be exempt from the fee approval because the revenue from the charge would be given to the store owners, not the government.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a news update from the LA Times. Maybe in a year we’ll see less of these “urban tumbleweeds” drifting across the freeways, clinging to the trees, and slipping into our ocean waters.

Check out the full story from the LA Times.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Café Gratitude

I recently discovered two amazing business leaders - Matthew and Terces Englehart – the creators of  San Francisco’s beloved Café Gratitude  and authors of Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening.  This dynamic partnership demonstrates perfectly how a business prospers by being grateful and generous. 

During a panel discussion on social enterprise at the Leaders Causing Leaders Conference in Long Beach, the Engleharts candidly discussed how they are able to stay profitable while embracing the needs of their 200-plus employees and keeping their customers happy.  In their daily business practices the company employs the concept of “Oneness.”  Meaning that any decisions made are based on what would be the most beneficial for the entire community. 

For example, when San Francisco changed their laws to require employers to provide health care insurance to all employees, the Engleharts had a choice to only provide health care to the employees within that local jurisdiction, leaving some employees who don’t work within San Francisco without insurance, or insure all employees.  The decision, based on oneness, was obvious:  insure all employees.  

Another “oneness” business decision that the Engleharts made in 2009 was to create the “I am Grateful” Bowl Program in response to the economic challenges in their community  - a pay by donation bowl of delicious organic food.  Essentially, customers are able to receive healthy and sustainable food based on what they can pay - even if it’s only 5 cents - while other customers who feel abundant can donate funds to support the program.  The program is not charity; it is community taking care of community – and instills a cycle of gratitude and generosity. 

In today’s economy, businesses are feeling the pressure to keep their overheard low and cut costs.  However, Café Gratitude operates on a much different model – they ask the question how can we give more – how can we support the community?  The shift in perspective is powerful and is the kind of thinking that has kept the company growing and more popular than ever.

As we move into the holiday season  - re-discover your capacity for gratitude and generosity.  Use Café Gratitude as a model to think about how your organization can transition from thinking about cutting costs – to  how it can give more to the people and community that make it profitable in the first place.  

Matthew and Terces Engelhart