Soundview Executive Book Summaries


A Cup Full of Trouble?
January 18, 2010, 1:10 PM
Filed under: Books in General, Environment, Green | Tags: , , , , ,

Despite my best efforts, I continue to worry my way through life. I suppose it’s something with which many of our readers struggle. The business world, particularly over the last few years, is a place where worry is washed down with the morning cup of coffee. Depending on the material that makes up your cup, you could be adding to your troubles, at least, that’s what this article is speculating. Researchers are continuing to study the effects of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), a substance that has been banned by several manufacturers of baby bottles and no-spill cups for children. Now researchers are examining a possible link between the consumption of BPA (through drinking from beverage cans and bottles) and the risk of heart disease.

While the article acknowledges the tenuous nature of the current research results, it raises further question about the materials used to make everyday products and their long-term effects on humans and the planet. These questions are addressed at length in a book featured in our latest edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries. Daniel Goleman’s Ecological Intelligence is an excellent look into the knowledge gap between what we buy and what it does to us and our surroundings.

Goleman discusses a problem he describes as, “a fundamental disconnect between what we do and how it matters.” In reflecting on his work and how it relates to the BPA debate, I can’t help but notice that BPA gained widespread use in the 1950s. One change we’ve encountered as science and business have progressed over the past 60 years is a more determined effort on the part of companies and regulatory agencies to gain a better understanding (if only in the short term) of a product’s effects on individuals. This type of responsible manufacturing is a practice that continues to grow. Goleman notes that consumers play a key role in shaping the way companies treat the Earth.

One hopes that Goleman’s efforts to increase the number of informed consumers and producers will lead to the changes we need. Maybe then I can stop worrying about the cup in which my coffee comes and get back to something else on my list of concerns.

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