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May 4 2011

Tim Horton’s Environ-mentalism?


I hyphenated environ-mentalism in this post because I was just over on Timmy’s “The Environment” page.

It’s awesome! [sarcasm] They have 5 environmental “events” that they deem worthy of a couple of sentences each. The events are meant to show the website visitor that Tim Horton’s is committed to the environment yet there is no follow up. There are no testimonials. In short, there is nothing to engage anyone. Even the few photos are lame.

After that visit I did a google search for “Tim hortons environmental issues” and BAMB! 21,000 results, most of them NOT in Tim’s favour. Including this blog, on the first page.

One of the posts was written in June 2009, 2 years ago! The post discusses giving kudos to Tim’s for their attempt at encouraging their customers to use recycle cups to receive a 10¢ discount. You can read the entire thing here.

The post also outlines that Tim’s have had no end of environmental activists at the door demanding they clean up their act. I guess that would explain why Tim Horton’s has not yet felt compelled to contact me about my concerns for our environment.

They get this all the time!

The thing is, they’ve obviously thrown so much money at the problem over the last several years. That Sustainability and Responsibility Report must have cost a few pretty pennies. They’re so close to a successful environmental campaign but they just can’t pull the trigger to get it to the store level.

It’s almost like the head office peeps sat around, brain stormed, hired experts, came up with a great strategy, wrote it all out, patted themselves on the back then left. What’s missing? Implementation!!!

I’m sorry about all the !!!!’s but this has been a problem for a long time. A problem that Tim Horton’s has recognized and yet, they do not seem, in all their collective corporate wisdom, to get the message across to Canadians.

I’m all about strategy so I’m going to go one better than suggesting they sort this out. I’m actually going to give Tim Horton’s an idea of how to begin. Yep, I’d do this for Tim’s and for the environment because I love Tim’s coffee (I’m sorry to those of you who are purists but I don’t like my coffee super strong.) Anyway, I want to help this National icon of Canada succeed where they are failing. I want them to be the best they can be!

Ready Timmy’s?

Here it is…..

You need a champion in each and every store with the Tim Horton’s name on it. Yep, it’s really that easy. You don’t even have to hire someone new (maybe in some places you might) It won’t cost much but the rewards will be so epic that you will wonder why the hell you hadn’t done it sooner.

I have some strategies for you too but you have to contact me. I want to help but since you don’t have anyone monitoring your branding online, you will have to find me first. I will continue to do everything in my power to stand out in this crowded internet space but you have to point yourself out to me to turn this into a conversation rather than a rant.


Mar 31 2011

Tim Horton’s Get’s a Failing Grade for Sustainability

I am a die-hard Tim Horton’s fan! I love the coffee. I love the prices. I love that Tim Horton is a Canadian hockey hero. I love that they put kids through camp. I’m a fan.

As a fan, I can no longer sit idly by and watch as my beloved Tim Horton’s continues to ignore the environmental crisis that they’re causing.

I’m so sad to say that Tim’s is a failure at sustainability. It breaks my heart but it’s true.

Now, I’m not saying that the Tim Horton’s corporate people are not unaware of this and have not made an effort to do something about it. I get it. They’ve put recycle bins in the restaurants and have china available to people who eat in. These initiatives are great but they are NOT WORKING!

First of all, the bins that have popped up all over Tim’s in BC has a place for “waste” and a place for “recyclables” but the image on the “recyclables” does not include cups. Obviously the #1 culprit for waste.

There is no where to recycle the cups.

But that is not the worst part. Not by a long shot. Not so long ago, when you stood at the cash and placed your order the cashier would ask “eat in or take out?”. If you replied “in” they would serve your coffee in a mug and your food on a plate.

Now there is no question. (I can list the several restaurants I have tested to see if they do or do not ask) Every cup of coffee is served in a paper cup unless you are like me and insist that it be in a mug or you have, at the ready, your recycle cup.

Today, I was at Tims. (as I am almost daily) I ordered my coffee “for here, in a mug”. The cashier keyed it in and the girl next to him put milk in a paper cup then started adding coffee while I was practically yelling at her to put it in a mug!!! I was so upset that a cup had now been wasted by my order. I pride myself on the fact that I have not used a paper cup in over a year. I use only my recycle cup for take out and mugs for eat in. What’s worse is, she threw it away because there is no paper cup recycling behind the cash at our local restaurant.

My passion is well-known at our local Tims. I am quite sure that I am considered a nut job by the staff but this is serious.

Tim’s head office professes to be doing something about the environment. They have tons of posters asking people to recycle and/or purchase a cup. But they are grossly negligent in educating the staff and customers on these initiatives.

I would, gladly, volunteer to visit Tim Horton restaurants across the lower mainland and perform a sustainability assessment on them to help the mucky-mucks in Toronto understand that they are failing miserably at sustainability. Tim’s is meant to be a Canadian success story. We want to be proud of the brand. For now, I’m quite disappointed in their complete lack of follow-up and social and environmental responsibility to the citizens of Canada.

(and don’t even get me started on Roll Up the Rim! What a joke.)


Mar 1 2011

Can Social Media Buy You a House? Part 2

I’ve changed the title of the series from “Can Social Media Buy ME a House?” to “Can Social Media Buy YOU a House?” for the simple reason that, as a social experiment I don’t really care if what comes from this is personal gain. In fact, it would be far more interesting if it were someone else who was the beneficiary of the experiment.

When I first put this notion out into cyber-space a few days ago I received several Facebook notes from friends telling me how I could go about finding a place to live. Some suggested social housing even. While I am not against social housing I must say that the attitude required, in ones mind, to accept socially assisted living is part of the problem that I want to solve with this experiment.

Social assistance is, by now means, a new notion. The Romans did it. In the Jewish tradition it was considered a right of the poor to receive charity from the wealthy. Most organize religions promote charity as a way to shave off some of ones sins.

But there is a price to charity. Often (and I’m not saying always) people who live on the charity of others become dependant on that charity. It becomes a mind-set that is passed through generations. There are numerous stories of individuals who pull themselves out of such lives but that requires a herculean effort that not many can aspire to.

So, the notion of just buying someone a house is not going to work. If someone does not have to work for their success they won’t. It’s human nature.

When I was at Trent University I had a job on the line, at General Motors. I worked 89 days (90 would’ve put me in the union) and I was able to use the money to pay for my education. I graduated in 3 years with a BA. I had several friends who’s parents paid for their post-secondary education while they lounged around at the cottage in the summers. Guess what? 80% of them had to go on to a 4th year to finish their degrees. It was a great lesson for me. As much as I resented their free-ride, I realized quickly that the value of doing it yourself far out-weighs sipping margaritas by the lake.

Having said that I do believe that providing charity to others is a social obligation that should be part of everyone’s life. We are among the top 10% of the world’s richest people. We shouldn’t be receiving charity, we should be giving it.

The question becomes “where can my efforts produce the greatest good?”. If you look at the opportunities to help others you an break it down into several categories.

The world.
The country.
The community.
The home.
The family.
Self.

Yep, you have to include self because helping yourself may just lead to helping others.

Helping others. Where would you get the most bang for your buck and the most satisfaction? I would suggest that helping others in your community could potentially have the largest impact and here’s why.

If you set up someone to succeed you help to change the way they think about money, giving etc. If they have come from a place of receiving charity and you take them to a place where they can make their own successes then you enable (in a good way) them to pay that behaviour forward and help others. Thus creating a community of people who think in a philanthropic way first.

To that end, I think that looking around your community and seeing how you can help to make it better, not by donating money but by improving someone’s situation so that they can help someone else may just be the best sort of “giver” you could be.

As always, I am very interested in your thoughts about this notion. I’m sure there are skeptics so bring it on, I’ll try to answer all of your questions and comments.

Next article: How can we make this funner (I know it’s not a word, that’s what makes it funner ;)


Feb 27 2011

Can Social Media Buy Me a House? Part 1

As a Social Media Strategist I am fascinated by the power of this medium to bring about all sorts of new, unexpected results.

Take the BP oil spill for example. In the past a company like BP completely screws up, screws the environment then white-washes the entire affair through expensive ad campaigns and propaganda. Not so this time. Enter a twitter page that tells us the truth and BAMB! BP is kicked to the curb, made to own up to their mistakes and, essentially (and rightly so) vilified in pretty much every sort of media.

BP is a great example of how the internet and the lightening-fast dissemination of information is changing the way that business is done. In my ever-optimistic brain, I hope that one day the use of social media will hold all companies to a higher standard where “what’s in it for us” becomes “what’s in it for everyone”. But I’m a dreamer :)

I decided that I would offer up my own social media experiment. While I spend most of my time providing value to others and preaching that providing value to the public is the corner-stone to a well-run social media campaign, I will admit that there this experiment was born from a more selfish motive. i.e. to, once again, own my own home.

That said, I think that by setting this up as an authentic, transparent experiment I can provide a great deal of value to others who want to use social media to grow their business or help out their non-profit. The successes and mistakes made over the next few months will be well-documented and should serve as a guide of either what to do or what not to do to gain exposure. (I hope it’s the ‘what to do’ :)

Let’s begin.

Here’s the background story: When I had my 2 daughters, 9 and 12 years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom. I had a small photography business but, for all intents and purposes, I didn’t really work. When my marriage ended 3 years ago I had just lucked in to a great job as a Recruiter for a video game company. Unfortunately the Korean company that owned us shut us down and I was left with, essentially nothing, in the worst economic crisis in my adult life.

We had to sell our house in June of 2009. 6 months before, or after, would have garnered about $50,000 more but we had to sell then and so we took a massive hit. My equity share, after any debts were paid, was $19,000. I bought an $11,000 Volvo and used the rest to pay first and last and a pet deposit on a rented home for my kids and myself.

This story is not unique. Far from it. In the recent economy both in the US and Canada there are hundreds of thousands of people with exactly the same story. I don’t even think it’s a sad story, it’s simply the way things are for many of us and there are many worse stories out there.

In addition to the circumstances that bring most of us to this point (not a bad point, just a point) is the fact that it is very difficult to get back into the housing market on your own, especially with a couple of kids.

The choices about spending become a major focus. Do you put your life on hold, no vacations, no movies, no skiing etc in order to save for a downpayment on a home that costs over 3/4 million dollars? That seems a bit crazy. And it’s not fair to the kids.

Most families, at least in Vancouver, have so many financial obligations it would make your head spin and if having a home is a priority it means that you’ll have to sacrifice those things that make the day-to-day fun like sports teams and summer road trips.

So what’s the answer? Is it time for the upper 10% to start finding ways to support society’s lower 90%? I don’t really know.

So I’m conducting this experiment to find out if there is a way to relieve some of the pressure from this middle class who want to give their kids a head start but don’t want to completely, financially devastate their own future in the process.

I’ll be collecting and publishing ideas that people come up with. One idea I had was an investors group that works with the “client” (that would be someone like me) who chooses a house then they work out a lease-to-own arrangement. That way, rather than paying just rent, the client has that satisfaction of working toward their own goals.

What’s your idea?