Fresh Living

Knudsen_AppleJuice.jpgI just returned from a glorious, expanding, soulful, inspiring, gorgeous vacation. I feel uber-blessed. I’ll be blogging on different parts of it, but freshest in my heart is the yoga workshop I took this weekend at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a kind of spiritual summer camp for grown-ups.

My three-day class was with the adorable, fierce, and inspiring Amy Ippoliti. On day three she talked about living by our core values every day. To start, we need to know what our values are–she suggested making a list (things like honesty, integrity, health). Having those clear–especially written down and shared with others) can help us be more solid and directed and make so many decisions easier.

Like this morning at Starbucks, for example. Like a lot of people in my yogic-y demographic, I was already uneasy about shopping there for many reasons–they don’t use organic coffee unless you request and wait for it, they’re a huge monolithic company that’s edged out smaller coffee businesses, they don’t use recycled materials at least in any major way, they don’t use organic dairy products, I shouldn’t be drinking coffee in the first place, etc. But I like the way the coffee tastes, it’s conveniently located, to say the least, and they do some things I admire–give health insurance to part-time employees, have a coffee composting program, etc.

This morning, though, I noticed (again) that they’ve switched their apple juice box brand to Tree Top from Knudsen. With this values thing in mind, I was better able to internally articulate my annoyance–Knudsen has a robust line of organics they’ve been offering for years–it’s not, IMHO, a company  that never cared about organics until it became big business. I imagine (though will confirm) that Tree Top undercut Knudsen’s pricing and Starbucks went with them. I have no idea if that’s true, I’m now realizing, but standing there, feeling all irritated and bothered and oddly helpless in the face of yet another corporate act of ugliness, however tiny-seeming, I thought: This does not align with my values. For the most part, this whole place does not align with my values and how I define them. But which particular value does this place violate for me?

It’s probably a convergence of a few of them–I really need to make my list–but working backwards (from violation to value, as opposed to value to violation), I’d say it’s mainly:

Integrity — A company aligned with this value would pay a few cents more to respect a company with a long-standing position of caring for health and the environment–and in fact has helped paved the way for the proliferation of healthier lifestyles.

Once I realized more precisely what was bothering me, I felt more empowered, less helpless, and better able to discern and decide: “I will not support Starbucks as often as I do–I will buy coffee more often from the organic place across the street.”  Granted, gray areas abound–I don’t really know about the behind-the-scenes business deals, no company is perfect. But based on the small soul violation it felt like to me–which made me remember all the other things that make me uneasy about supporting Starbucks–I was able to make a clearer decision. If I get new info, I will consider flexing. But for now, I will go with the organic place across the street–or better yet, drink more green tea, less coffee.

Can you relate?

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