Since I received my copy of The Better World Shopping Guide, I’ve been trying to support environmentally and ethically responsible companies with my dollars. While some purchases are a slam dunk, like the giant bottle of Method hand soap, some are murky, to the point that I wonder how feasible it is to regularly practice ethical consumerism.
Take, for instance, my lunch with James at Chipotle the other day. The book warns that “the overall picture of the highly competitive fast food industry is not a pretty one, but if you find yourself in a pinch, there are a handful of companies to choose from that are on the cutting edge of responsibility.” According to the book, Chipotle is one of them because “it actively supports family farms; supports humane treatment of animals; 30% of the beans utilized are organic; and 50% to 100% of the meat utilized is natural based.”
I feel good ordering our meals at Chipotle—veggie burrito for me, quesadilla for James—until I get to the drinks decision. I used to get soft drink for myself without even thinking about it. But thanks to Better World Shopping Guide, I don’t know what to do, because Chipotle offers Coca-Cola products. This company, which makes Diet Coke, my go-to fast-food beverage, also “hinders clean water access abroad and is the target of major human rights boycotts.”
How can something that tastes so good be so bad for the world? The woman behind the cash register patiently waits for my decision. I guiltily order a bottle of Nantucket Nectars apple juice for James and a Diet Coke for myself. I try to placate myself with the decision by not getting a plastic lid or straw for the cup. Maybe I’m supporting a company that, according to the Multinational Monitor, has been on its “worst corporation” list for the past three years, but at least I’m not adding more plastic to landfills.
Next time I’m at Chipotle, I promise myself, I’ll remember to bring my Safety-Kleen water bottle with me so I won’t be tempted by Diet Coke. I just need to wean myself off of caffeine first.
13 hours ago