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A social green mug

December 30, 2009

Our new coffee makerWe just bought ‘Keurig’ one-cup coffee maker (manufactured by GMC). I was a little bit skeptical of GMC’s use of the disposable cups to brew the ‘perfect’ cup of coffee. I decided to read the pamphlet that came with the purchase to see what the Corporation has to say about that. I was pleasantly surprised. I would like to share that in next few paragraphs with you.

You may not realize when you sip a ‘perfect’ cup of coffee from Green Mountain Corporation (GMC) that you are actually holding a ‘Green Mug’. The Corporation defines the purpose of that cup of coffee in its 2007 Corporate Social Responsibility Report: “When you take a sip of Green Mountain Coffee you are not just savoring a terrific flavor: you’re helping to brew a better world”.

The Corporation has implemented various measures to establish its position as a socially responsible Business Institution. GMC invests in Fair Trade Certified coffee both home and abroad. It has reached out to the poverty-stricken communities in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico to help the workers to better their lives. It manages its solid waste and has a creative solution for the unavoidable gas emissions. Most of all the Company encourages its employees to bring their “whole selves” to the work place.

The Organic Flavor: GMC sells its K-cup with symbols of both “USDA Organic” and “Fair Trade Certified”. The “USDA Organic” symbol stands for coffees grown by farmers who mostly use renewable resources and practice in the conservation of soil and water. The “Fair Trade Certified” symbol represents coffees purchased from cooperative or small coffee farmers at fair price and under conditions sustainable for producers and buyers.

Reaching Out to Communities:  GMC routinely sends its qualified employees abroad to participate in the field research conducted by Sustainable Food Laboratory and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. One such study revealed facts about “thin months” among farming communities in Nicaragua and Mexico. The farmers in these countries reduce their diet, eat less nutritious food or borrow from their future income in order to make ends meet roughly three months in each year because of insufficient income during this period. GMC is trying to come up with a pilot program along with one of the co-ops from the research study. The Corporation has a goal: “name the phenomenon publicly, articulate a shared vision of a future where there are no ‘thin months,’ and facilitate the community’s efforts to bring the vision of life”. According to the Corporation’s 2007 report, its total outreach to local and coffee-growing communities grew to over $1.1 million through its grant making, volunteerism, and product donation programs.

GMC has also created a new fund to help coffee-growing communities recover from the natural disaster. The Corporation is offsetting 100% of its greenhouse emissions by donating at least 5% of its pre-tax earnings to social and environmental causes. GMC is selectively funding grants that support micro finance, education, health care, organic farming, responsible energy use and countryside cleanups in its home state of Vermont.

A Concern for the Environment:  GMC is continually trying to improve its management of solid waste by systematically composting organic waste from its production process. It has installed a biodiesel fueling station for its fleet, reducing the carbon foot print of its distribution fleet by as much as 20% depending on the fuel mix. GMC has introduced new packaging for its “Newman’s Own” organic coffee line which is made with 19% poly-lactic acid, a biopolymer made from renewable resources.

Employee Involvement:  Usually the social and environmental programs are supported and often initiated by the employees of GMC. The Corporation’s 2007 report indicates that over 31% of its employees volunteered in their local communities through its CAFÉ Program, which provided employees with paid time off during their normal workday for volunteer activities.

Green Mountain Corporation is truly defining the role of a business in our society. A business cannot be a stand alone organization. It has an on-going relationship with the community that consists of it suppliers, employees and customers. The next cup of GMC coffee you drink you might be toasting for an entire spectrum of our community.

-by Indira

One Comment leave one →
  1. talia permalink
    December 30, 2009 10:36 pm

    it sounds like they are genuinely making an effort and that its not just greenwashing… i’m very pleasantly suprised!

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