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Activism through Capitalism

When I woke up Sunday morning, after almost three weeks on the road, I wanted to tune into Good Morning America for a few minutes. The hype was all around Super Bowl 50, but I gasped–I thought, is the Super Bowl on today? Do I even know who is playing? Nope! I didn’t… But then I started reflecting on how important the Super Bowl was at one time in my life. Today, not so much. In fact, the only thing that piqued my interest was the halftime entertainment.

I started thinking about the billions being spent on this single football game. Then I thought about the last 3 weeks of my life, and a central theme developed. This central theme continued to arise, especially after spending some time looking into social injustices like human trafficking, child labor and pollution (which can be solved with consumer’s choices) and diseases like Crohn’s and dementia–all of which can be impacted by diet. I looked at who was significant in these causes and the dates of blog posts and activities by all of the non-profits that work on these social injustices, and I began to realize how challenged they appear to be. That really made me reflect that the non-profit model, in my opinion, isn’t getting us there. We need a new model.

I thought about the idea of real change in sustainability, real change in child labor issues. These issues have definitely been assisted by non-profits, but the driving force behind their  actions has been through major companies. Yep, those capitalistic Wall Street-types.

Then, while walking down a cold Park Ave and listening to Empire State of Mind by Alecia Keys, I thought that we have it all wrong. We should be driving activism through the capitalistic system. Yep, that is what we really need to do. This started gelling in my mind as “Activism through Capitalism.” Now it is driving inside of ever cell in my body. Yep, “Activism through Capitalism.”

That’s what struck me about the hype for the Super Bowl. Then I started thinking about the 100 million people that are watching the game and the incredible price for a 30 second commercial –5 million dollars! That is a stunning 166,666.67 dollars per second!

Okay, now you see where I am going with this. With a viewership of 100 million people, a platform that clearly unites the United States and reaches around the world, how many of these 5 million dollar TV spots will do anything to activate change? Wouldn’t it be really cool if just one of the advertisements educated women on how to recognize and respond to spousal abuse? (An issue that has rocked the NFL recently.) What if one shoe, uniform or action sportswear maker produced an ad talking about how to eliminate child labor in textiles, or addressed the need for closed loop recycling of materials? How cool would that be?

If we all help, I firmly believe we can make this a reality. Yep, this is the year we start working on “Activism through Capitalism” and really make Wall Street and the “Global Corporate Infrastructure” recognize that they are the most effective way to make change in the world. I am coming to the conclusion that if we all work on the big companies to make change, they will. Today we can do this through social media and consumer outreach very effectively and efficiently. Yes, the consumer (which is you, us and them) can make this happen.

The more I think about it, the more excited I get. In the big scheme of things, this helps everyone, even the capitalistic side becomes more sustainable through addressing causes that have an impact on their business. And of course that can have a positive effect on their very consumers. How does it resonate with you? Can you think of a major cause that needs attention and that can be directly impacted by the purchasing or specifications of a large multi-national corporation?

For instance, did you know that Target donates a significant amount of money and corporate resources to studying childhood diseases at St Jude’s Hospital? YEAH! Or, did you know that Wal-Mart has major initiatives with the National Resource Defense Fund and Environmental Defense Fund that protect the environment? Nestle has a global program that is called Shared Value that is significantly more impactful than fair trade in building schools and medical offices in some of the poorest areas of the world.

Then, if you really want to smile, check out Unilever’s Project Sunlight, another wonderful example of how a large company that spends 7 billion on marketing every year can appropriate funds for social causes. I have seen the Nestle initiatives with my own eyes and it is incredible and impactful, so I know it can be done. Our collective job is to expand this base of Social Responsibility and to make it real activism. Activism with measured results.

Anybody want to take this on? We can start by contacting the companies that are doing things and then target the ones that aren’t and point them in a new direction. Yep, as you scour the internet to re-watch your favorite Super Bowl commercials today, just imagine the advertisements we will see over the next 50 years of Super Bowl games and how they could impact all of the social injustices, pollution and global warming to make this world a better place for all mankind. I feel it in every cell of my body! So on the day after Super Sunday, let’s get started on Super Monday and remember “Activism through Capitalism” just requires one thing, our consumer purchasing dollars making responsible choices. YEAH!

Onward and Upward–


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