Sunday, 19 April 2009

Quitting the real thing

Hello my name is Lawrence and I'm addicted to Coca-Cola, or rather, I was.

Coke Zero, that was my thing, (I could take or leave Diet and when it came to the full-fat, 8 teaspoons of sugar Regular (classic, original) I steered clear unless it was with vodka). But I could easily get through two 500ml bottles of Zero a day. At work it would be more thanks to the cafeteria or the vending machines downstairs.
One week they ran out of my particular brand, needless to say it caused stress in my life that got me thinking about the nature of this obsession. It's nice tasting, marginally refreshing, but deep down in the back of my mind I knew that it was un-healthy and costly.

I've been reading a lot about the credit crunch/meltdown/recession/end-of-the-world recently and I've been going to some lengths to get my head around what has actually happened to the financial system that has so many people sweating. I'm not an economist or any great follower of the markets so when it all blew up I had no idea.

Then I discovered Mark Thomas.

For those who don't know Mark Thomas he is an agitator of governments, a crusader against injustice, a poker-in-the eye of multinationals and also a damned funny man. In the course of reading,watching and listening to the wave of information about the economy I tripped across his 'It's the Stupid Economy' podcasts. I was hooked.

The podcasts are a series of interviews with people who do know a bit about the economy, markets and global financial systems, they opened my eyes to the abuses and mistakes that lead to the current shambles. I became an avid listener and hope to make it to one of his live shows he's currently touring around England. As an aside I looked him up on amazon and found his book 'Belching out the Devil'.

I'm not one of those people who buy fairtrade, I try to be ethical, I really do but like so many of us I'm a committed consumer. I'd never really gone into what effect the manufacturing of my favourite drink, food or clothes cost. Until I finished this book.

The book outlined Mark's exploration into the business practices of the Coca-Cola company, from their overuse of water in drought-ridden areas of India that, robbing locals of water they need to grow crops and survive on, through their intimidation of a Mexican shopkeeper when she refused to stop selling a competitor brand finishing up with the company's moral ambiguity over a union member who was shot dead in one of their bottling factories in Columbia.

Now I knew that no multinational company was entirely clean and pure, but this book left me feeling a more ashamed and depressed about the kind of people who run the Coca-Cola empire than I was about the bankers, and that's saying a lot.

So I'm quitting the real thing, and I won't be turning to a competitor, I'm also going to be taking a closer look at what I but from now on.

Meanwhile I'll just sit down with a nice glass of water......


gino259 said...
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ginokrypton said...

Mark Thomas - you gotta love him. Have you seriously only just discovered him?

Loz said...

Had a vague knowledge of his work,ginokrypton, but really have taken to him since his economy podcasts. The man is genius