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The epitaph of a product

Face to face

Luis Fernando Alejos and Issa Pérez Padilla discuss when brands believe themselves to be above right and wrong.


Luis Fernando Alejos - Web Presence Manager at The Purpose

Luis Fernando Alejos - Web Presence Manager at The Purpose

Guatemalan writer, artist, and communicator with a diverse professional trajectory that includes journalism, interactive marketing, editing, and editorial production. Responsible for more than 700 articles on entertainment, health, technology, culture, social commentary, and corporate events in print and digital publications.

The epitaph of a product or Let’s turn left and flee

By Luis Fernando Alejos 

There is something fundamentally wrong when a company transgresses laws only to benefit themselves. It happens in all kinds of economies. It’s the face on the coin of a capitalist system: how far must a company go to reach their profit goals? That’s when governments should intervene and say: enough, there are rules, money cannot buy everything.

“We have become too religious once we worship greed,” stated Bernard Sanders in the documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. “We must change our value system,” words from a democratic contender for the United States presidency.

We find examples of these illegalities every day. Nestlé is extracting water from California in the middle of a drought for their bottled water brand, Arrowhead), General Mills and their Protein Cheerios are the recipients of a collective lawsuit for trying to market a product without reflecting transparency about the actual amount of sugar and protein in their product.

The lack of tax investigations in terms of the funding for political parties in Guatemala aso reveals how much capital can circulate freely in order to advance the objectives of one candidate. Nómada has already published an investigation about the link between Manuel Baldizón, the Urban Buses Business Association, and the Urban Buses Carrier Association. The interest for the common good takes a back seat (or the middle row, where there is space, according to the drivers that adjust the meaning of this word for their own convenience), while from congress the Lider former candidate played with the national budget to advance his political career, without any legal repercussions to stop him, let alone congressmen, when the millionaire subsidies for public transportation were approved.

If there is something we can learn from the newly approved credit card law, it’s that it is necessary to defend the rights of the consumers. And even then, there will be sectors that will do anything in order to flip the situation, since it seemed a little utopian to believe that businesses and their leaders backed out. Doing business is their reason for existence, regardless of democracy as a compass (quoting the director Michael Moore).

Is it too much to ask for companies to develop a conscience? Could we help them write their epitaph, their tombstone? Let’s say that at the democracy party, we don’t have to dance with everyone that asks us, and that we should also reserve the right to turn something down.


Issa Pérez Padilla

Issa Pérez Padilla

Degree in publicity, Masters in International Commerce. Partner-Director of marketing at Work and Feeling, S.A. Guide Commercial Director (Guatemaltecos Impulsores del Aprendizaje)

Brands that believe themselves to be above right and wrong

By Issa Pérez Padilla 

In the contemporary market there are many brands that appear to be better because they contribute work to hundreds of people and deliver a relatively “good” final product., with excellent quality control, but if we were to investigate, we would realize that they are actually damaging ecosystems and the planet, directly affecting thousands of people that depend on one crop – palm oil. It is a product that is causing severe damage to various countries, developing questionable work practices.

Also known as “vegetable fat” it is one of the most economical alternatives, however, there aren’t enough warnings against the hydrogenated and saturated fats in it that are harmful in excess.

The sad part is that palm oil can be used in the manufacturing of all kinds of products, such as edible oil, frozen foods, margarine, ice cream, snacks, biofuel, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, skin care cosmetics, hair products, lipstick, and candles among others.

This means there is no way anyone has been able to avoid it, at home or anywhere else (e.g. hotels, restaurants, etc.), let alone know they were consuming it.

Palm oil production is leading to the deforestation of tropical forests in Indonesia and Malaysia where every year 12 to 15 million acres of forest are being cut down, which is causing 15% of greenhouse gases, contributing negatively to climate change. And this industrial activity is also causing the death of various animal species, some of which are now endangered, like orangutans. But the producing businesses continue to plow ahead, not only in Indonesia and Malaysia, but in various countries around the world.

In the face of these figures, multinational corporations that use this oil have had to start reacting and have begun to plan to evaluate the damage their production is causing, but this has yet to be seen. The damage done to the environment will take decades to recover and any decision made will not fix the damage done to the earth in such a short amount of time.

The independent consultant Union of Concerned Scientists has analyzed various companies that partake in this of which only eight have adopted compromises in the past year: PepsiCo, Nestle, Kellogg’s, ConAgra, Danone, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Henkel.

My recommendation is to remind you that as consumers you have the power to decide and determine if the products you consume are avoiding mass deforestation and the rise in CO2 on a large scale. Our choice in purchases would also prevent mistreatment of children and adults who are working in bad conditions for this kind of product, and even protect certain species, again like the orangutans. This can all contribute to the improvement and protection of our planet. What each one of us does and consumes counts towards taking care of our environment.

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