Few things in life are black and white. That’s why we have to learn to Grapple with the Gray.
Here is this episode's ethics challenge:
We’re encouraged to buy reusable shopping bags that make disposable bags unnecessary and thereby help protect the environment. But is that actually a good idea?
In 2019, the top ten grocery stores in Britain reported selling 1.5 billion reusable bags, an average of 54 per household in the UK, arguably ten times more than a family a family needs. In 2018, supermarkets in Britain distributed nearly 20,000 more tons of plastic than they did the year before.
Moreover, much of our home recycling practices are more placebo than cure. Families that fail to sort their trash properly end up contaminating genuine recyclables, jacking up labor and machinery repair costs. For years, much of our recycling was shipped to China for disposal, relocating the problem rather than solving it. And even under ideal conditions, the cost of recycling has often made it financially impractical.
In general, does the illusion of taking positive action encourage complacency, so that we exempt ourselves from implementing practices that might address our problems in a meaningful way? Or might a public awareness campaign that fails to meet measurable objectives nevertheless help change consumer behavior and so help progressive policies eventually succeed?
Meet this week’s panelists:
Melissa Hughes, Ph.D. is Founder and Principal of the Andrick Group, applying recent brain research to improve employee engagement, company culture, team dynamics, and innovation.
Mark O'Brien O’Brien is founder and principal of O’Brien Communications Group, helping companies add innovation to their mindsets and their operations to create discernible competitive advantage
Cris Parker is with us from Sydney, Australia. She is Head of The Ethics Alliance, a community of organizations across sectors that are connected through The Ethics Centre, providing ethics-based counseling, consulting and education programs.