Products 'green' teens will love to love

April 19, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Call it the teen guide to "green magic."

Green magic is what the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., called consumer dollars, because of their power to influence corporate policies.

Teens are a powerful U.S. consumer group, spending an estimated $82 billion a year. In a six-month survey interviewing hundreds of students nationwide, 75 percent told the Council on Economic Priorities that the environment is the most important issue to them. Equal treatment for women and minorities ranked second.

So CEP, which has spent years investigating companies through questionnaires, computer searches, newspapers, magazines and other research, has published "Students Shopping for a Better World." It's a report card on the companies behind favorite teen products such as music, clothing, fast food and cosmetics. Companies are graded on practices concerning the environment, treatment of minorities and women, and public disclosure.

An honor roll is topped by such companies as popular clothing manufacturer Esprit de Corp (straight A's), which produces an "E" collection made with organic cottons, uses excess fabric to make reusable bags and boasts a management staff that is half women and 20 percent minority.

A list of "Underachievers" includes USX (Marathon Oil), which flunked every category, is criticized for a history of dangerous environmental practices and has no women or minorities on its board of directors.

* The Honor Roll: Anheuser Busch, Aroma Vera, Aveeda, Avon Products, General Mills, Johnson, Kellogg, Kiss My Face, Ben & Jerry's, Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Body Love Natural Cosmetics, Campbell Soup, Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Dayton Hudson, Eco Bella, Esprit de Corp, 3M, Newman's Own, Nordstrom, Orjene Natural Cosmetics, Pepsico, Quaker Oats, Rachel Perry, Rhino Records, Seventh Generation, Sony, Stonyfield Farm, Time Warner, Tom's of Maine.

* Underachievers: Brunswick, Carter Wallace, ConAgra, Imasco, Pfizer, RJR Nabisco, Reebok, Russell, Sun Company, Texaco, USX, United Biscuits, Wrigley Jr.

Comprehensive discussions of some companies reveal these tidbits:

* McDonald's rates only a C on the environment, largely due to its beef production practices. But it gets high marks because 70 percent of management and 25 percent of executives are women and minorities.

* The Gap gives away 1 percent of pretax earnings to programs for youth, the environment and health and human services. It matches gifts of any employee to a non-profit organization or school.

* Nike funds school dropout prevention grants.

For a copy of the guide, call CEP at (800) 729-4237, or write CEP at 30 Irving Place, New York, N.Y. 10003. Cost is $7.49 or $23.95 for five copies (shipping included). Discounts available for bulk orders or classroom use.

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