Evolving capitalism is a long-term process, and quite a roller-coaster ride, so each victory along the way is all the more meaningful. After spending a year with other SRI colleagues in dialogue with senior Costco management, I am thrilled to share that our efforts on your behalf have led Costco to adopt its first sustainable seafood policy, addressing a variety of policy, supply chain, labeling, and endangered species issues.
Costco is the largest retailer of seafood in the U.S., so this policy change will have a significant impact on the health of fragile global fisheries, and will spur immediate changes in the practices of every supplier of seafood to the company. Costco is limiting purchases of 12 endangered species, including Atlantic cod, Chilean sea bass, bluefin tuna, grouper, shark, orange roughy, monkfish, and Atlantic halibut, and will require that shrimp and other fish farmers comply with sustainability standards defined by non-governmental organizations in collaboration with global government and industry leaders. Costco’s policy states that the company will purchase the 12 endangered species only if they are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the most widely-respected independent certifier of sustainable fisheries.
Foremost on shareholders’ minds when approaching Costco was the desire to see adoption of a formal sustainability policy to guide all aspects of procurement, set targets for the achievement of sustainability goals, ensure the availability of “sustainable” choices for customers, and avoid the sale of unsustainable seafood products, including endangered and other over-harvested species. We requested that Costco define its sustainability goals, establish regular reviews of fisheries at great risk, and use practices that will mitigate or limit environmental impacts associated with aquaculture. The resulting policy changes begins to address all these concerns.
Here at Natural Investing, we’ve been mighty inspired by the Slow Money movement from the moment Woody Tasch began sharing his earliest ponderings. So we’re especially excited to be one of several sponsors of the 3rd Slow Money National Gathering, taking place in San Francisco this fall.
Here’s how they describe themselves:
Is Slow Money an investment strategy or a movement? Yes! It’s a new kind of social investing for the 21st century. Slow Money national gatherings are quickly emerging as a significant new venue for networking, investing and social change. More than 1000 people from 34 states and several foreign countries attended our first two national gatherings, and more than $4.25 million has been invested in 16 of the small food enterprises that have presented. Since last year’s event at Shelburne Farms, Vermont, 11 local Slow Money chapters have begun investing in their regions.
Join this emerging network of thought leaders, investors, donors, entrepreneurs, farmers, and activists for our Third National Gathering this October in San Francisco, and collaborate with folks from around the country who are finding new ways to connect money, culture and the soil.
Hal loved the first national gathering, which he wrote about here. We encourage our clients and readers to join Natural Investing’s Christopher Peck in San Francisco for this year’s event! Click on through here for more details. And, check this link for a collection of Natural Investing Blog posts that have featured Slow Money on both the national and local levels.
In spite of all today’s economic challenges, this is an exciting time for values-based investors. The range of investments has grown from just a handful of SRI funds when we started in the 80’s to hundreds of values-based options. SRI has become a global movement, corporate responsibility is a mainstream issue, and the opportunity to create a low-carbon economy is the major thrust of the current administration.
But despite these achievements, the challenges have grown even faster. The earth is groaning under the strain of supporting consumption-based lifestyles, while debt-based economies demand even more consumption to keep the whole game going. In an ideal world, we would have a coordinated global approach with sufficient wisdom and clout to address global challenges while keeping local economies vibrant. But Wall Street and a handful of mega-banks are designed to funnel capital into globalization, while the local realm has been almost ignored by the investment world. In response, many people are finding that the local level is the most appropriate place to direct their energies, for it is in our neighborhoods and communities that we can have the most meaningful impact.
So I was elated when I picked up a new book called Slow Money written by Woody Tasch. Just the title gets your attention…who talks about the speed of money? But money has gotten fast, whizzing around the world as blips of data, seeking the highest return no matter what the consequences for the planet. Slowing money down fits right in with “natural” investing – our term for investing in ways that are aligned with the planet’s patterns at a deeper level. In September I attended the first national Slow Money conference in Santa Fe. I felt right at home, as the 400+ attendees were a blend of activists from the financial, farming, and nonprofit worlds.
Tasch’s focus is on local food, also known as the Slow Food movement. We all know the splendid taste of vine- ripened tomatoes and fresh-picked corn.