This past week I was thinking about the time I spent in Nepal with Coca- Cola to see the devastation after the earthquake and the global brand’s response to it. The April 2015 4.5 magnitude earthquake upended lives and left cities in rubble. I saw much of it during our travels through Kathmandu and its surrounding towns.
NGOs worked with their partners in the field to provide basic necessities for families, especially women and girls. And, Coca-Cola helped fund programs to empower women’s lives. One such programs I saw was Coca- Cola’s 5×20 program, a global initiative to empower five million women in its supply chain by 2020. Bottlers Nepal Limited committed to empowering 10,000 women in and around Kathmandu to help reach that milestone.
The 5×20 program had a global goal of empowering five million women by 2020. I recently went to see if that goal had been met last year. I was pleased that it had. In fact, Coca-Cola and its partners had helped six million women in 100 different countries reach economic empowerment.
I was happy to see the 5×20 economic empowerment program up close and am happy for the women who now have their own businesses to lean on.
Last year I was happy to see women in Nepal benefitting from Coca-Cola’s 5by20 program. By 2020 Coca-Cola has pledged to help five million women entrepreneurs around the globe by allowing them to earn money through its value chain. That could mean teaching women valuable business skills as I saw in Kathmandu to providing women with opportunities to support their families through creating products with Coca-Cola products and packaging to helping women start their own small businesses.
For Mother’s Day, I was delighted to receive this tulip from Coca-Cola made by artisans who work for Mitz, a Mexican nonprofit where women devote 8 to 30 hours a week to create handmade products. Mitz creates jobs for women, funds kids’ scholarships and reduces waste.
PET bottles, one of the most widely used materials in the world, are used to package foods and drinks from soda and juices to salad dressings and cooking oils. It is also completely recyclable. In the United States alone, 1.5 billion pounds of PET bottles are recycled annually.
Throughout my travels to low and middle-income countries I see PET bottles thrown haphazardly in fields and streams clogging waterways and dirtying sidewalks and walking paths. In countries such as Nepal (where I visited last year with Coca-Cola), there are concerted educational efforts by environmentally focused NGOs to change behaviors around discarding PET bottles. There are recycling centers in Nepal, but not enough to completely clean its streets and countryside. It seems to be a sisyphean battle to combat PET bottle waste, but there are some who are using the bottles in innovative ways.
When I stepped out of the U.S. Forest Service SUV after nearly a two-hour scenic autumn drive from Taos, New Mexico to the Carson National Forest, we were standing in an expansive valley so big that huge cows below us looked like mere dots in the distance. We had finally arrived at Valle Vidal, a massive grassy meadow with vistas as far as the eye could see and elevations reaching close to 13,000 feet in Carson National Forest. Even though Valle Vidal is overwhelmingly beautiful to take in its environmental impact is being increasingly hampered by major stream and groundwater degradation that needs immediate remedying in order to protect fish and wildlife as well as to store more ground water for communities downstream.
I was in New Mexico visiting the Carson National Forest with Coca-Cola North America’s sustainability team last week to learn about their water restoration efforts in northern New Mexico as well as the company’s overarching nationwide partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation that replenished 1 billion liters of water to nature and communities reaching 60 million people in the United States. Coca-Cola also recently announced that it has successfully reached one of its principle global sustainability milestones ahead of schedule to effectively balance its water usage in its beverages and production. Coca-Cola has reached its goal five years ahead by replenishing 191.9 billion liters of water across the globe in 71 countries. In the United States, Coca-Cola North America has pledged to double the 1 billion liters of water that it has already replenished by 2018.
I was in Nepal with Coca-Cola for a very short period of time earlier this month, but we did and saw a lot in the days we were there including:
(Day 1) How the local Coca-Cola bottling company is working with a Nepalese NGO that is rebuilding a community from scratch after the earthquake
(Day 2) How Coca-Cola is empowering businesswomen in their supply chain
On Day 3 we visited a PET (plastic) bottle recycling center run by the Himalayan Climate Initiative where we sat down with women waste workers who sort the bottles to be recycled. It was heartening to learn about the innovative ways HCI is providing benefits and dignity to the women waste workers who will remain in Nepal’s lowest caste for the rest of their lives.