Issue 036 / Cristiano Ronaldo, SF’s Restaurant Problem & A History Of Modern Capitalism From The Perspective Of A Straw

Reconsidered is a bi-weekly newsletter curating thought-provoking content on corporate social responsibility, sustainability and social impact. Click here to subscribe. 

This Week's Five Links

Disposable America — The Atlantic
Straws have come a long way from the days of being made out of actual straw. This article charts the evolution of this humble plastic drinking accessory and with it, the societal trends and corporate systems that have enabled straws to become so widespread. A fascinating read (especially for nerdy History majors like me 🤓).

Union To Strike at Fiat Chrysler Over Juventus Cash Splurge on Ronaldo  Reuters
Though Italy didn’t make it to the World Cup this year 😢, Italian football is still making headlines. This week, the Juventus soccer club announced a €100 million contract with Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. Just one problem — Juventus is majority-owned by Exor, which also owns 30% of Fiat Chrysler, which in recent years has put thousands of workers on state-sponsored temporary layoff schemes because they failed to invest in new models. Now, an independent union is calling for a strike. “It is unacceptable that while the (owners) ask workers of FCA ... for huge economic sacrifices for years, the same decide to spend hundreds of millions of euros for the purchase of a player,” the USB union said in a statement. This follows other campaigns targeting exorbitant celebrity contracts, like the Clean Clothes Campaign calling on new UNIQLO spokesman Roger Federer to advocate for workers’ rights.

San Francisco Restaurants Can’t Afford Waiters. So They’re Putting Diners to Work. — The New York Times 
Income inequality is on the rise in San Francisco, with the working class steadily being pushed further and further out. It’s now a city where teachers can’t even afford to live, much less people working in service occupations. Enter a new trend of “fine-casual” restaurants, which are dealing with the labor shortage and new $15/hour minimum wage by removing waitstaff from the equation. At restaurants like Souvla, customers wait in line to order their $13 free-range chicken sandwiches at the counter and bus their own tables at the end of their meals. It’s a case study of how high housing costs alter the economics of everything else — and as a born San Franciscan, it breaks my heart. 

Transforming Air Pollution Into Talk-Provoking Art — The Christian Science Monitor 
If you could write with pollution, what would you say? Anirudh Sharma, a graduate student from New Delhi, began experimenting with turning carbon pollution into ink while studying at MIT. The result is Air-Ink marker, an innovation that is sparking necessary conversation about a problem that affects over 95% of the world’s population and contributed to over 6 million deaths in 2016.

🎧 Unteachable Moment: All the Caffeine in the World Doesn’t Make You Woke — This American Life 
On May 29, Starbucks closed 8,000 stores in the United States so its employees could attend anti-racial bias training. This came after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for a friend, an event that sparked protests and calls for a boycott. Starbucks let a This American Life reporter sit in on the training. The resulting episode is provocative, awkward and raises important questions about how effective diversity and inclusion trainings really are.

According to the inner monologue of millions upon millions of citizens, while not necessarily ideal, throwing away one empty bottle probably wouldn’t make that much of a difference, and could even be forgiven, considering how long they had been carrying it around with them, the time that could be saved by just tossing it out right here, and the fact that they had bicycled to work once last July.
— From “'How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?' 30 Million People Wonder” (The Onion)

Spotlight: Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July.jpg

Plastics are polluting our oceans, our soil, even our bodies. It’s an enormous problem that’s growing larger by the day, and only urgent, bold, systemic change will solve it.

Businesses and governments bear the greatest share of responsibility. But consumers play an important role too — by questioning the way plastic has infiltrated our lives, by demanding change from bigger players and by taking a good look at our own relationship with plastics, especially those we take, use and throw away without a second thought.

This month, over two million people are participating in Plastic Free July — a global movement and pledge to refuse single-use plastics.

Depending on where you live, going plastic free can be a challenge. But everyone can start somewhere. Here are a few of our favorite tips:

 Request no straw when you order drinks (and when buying takeout coffee, ask for no lid)

🥒 Opt for non-plastic wrapped produce and skip the plastic produce bags (those cucumbers can go straight into your reusable shopping bag)

🛁 Ditch your plastic body wash containers for good old fashioned bar soap (the all-natural kind also feels more luxurious, IMHO)

️☕️ Invest in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, and bring your own reusable containers from home for restaurant leftovers  

💪 Don’t be shy about sharing your plastic pledge with the people in your life — you can never underestimate your power to influence others 

For more tips, visit the Plastic Free July website, which has a whole glossary of fun alternatives.

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This newsletter is curated by Jessica Marati Radparvar, with support from content strategist Ysabel Yates and jobs board curator Danielle Vermeer. If you like it, please consider sharing it!