Monday, November 12, 2007

Oh Deer

(Update: See their first and second response. This post is essentially retracted.)

I'm having trouble taking Dancing Deer's eco-friendly claims seriously. It is possible that they are extremely environmentally friendly and socially responsible in almost all cases, but I fear that their Triple-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies contains a major oversight. But first, I'll describe their policy.

In their own words:
Caring for the Environment
To the extent possible we make choices in our packaging, production and facilities management, which are friendly to the environment.
(source: Dancing Deer: How We Think)
The cookies in question come twelve to a (purportedly recycled) cardboard box. Each two cookies are wrapped in plastic resulting in six plastic wraps rather than wrapping all twelve at once. They'd use much less plastic in the latter case. I'm assuming the silly wrapping is for freshness and, as the website says, "makes them lunch box friendly." So apparently, being lunch box friendly is more important than being fully environmental friendly. See (for example -- there are tons) this article for some more information about plastic's environmental unfriendliness.

Possibly what bothers me the most is that Dancing Deer has been written up and praised multiple times for their "environmental packaging":
The Innovator Award is the most recent accolade for the natural foods company that has received public acclaim for their fresh baked products, community activism, and artful and environmental packaging.

Dancing Deer uses all natural ingredients, minimal packaging and environmentally-friendly materials.
(source: Winning Workplaces)

[Dancing Deer's CEO] also often hears praise for the $8 million company's philanthropy, green packaging, and commitment to its 65 employees and inner-city Boston. [...] Its cookies, brownies, cakes, and mixes, all packaged in recycled fiber and whimsically illustrated with stick-figure bakers...
(source: BusinessWeek)
I'm willing to believe that Dancing Deer could potentially be an otherwise environmentally aware and socially responsible company, but it seems very strange to praise them for something that is clearly bogus. Social Funds and Winning Workplaces need to do some more fact checking it seems. (It's too bad, since I was hoping to use Social Funds to help me find an enviromentally/socially conscious mutual fund, but now I have doubts as to whether they will be accurate.)

I will send my comments to Dancing Deer.

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