CVS, a Pharmacy that Cares About Health

It’s been just over a year since CVS announced that they would stop selling tobacco products. Tobacco earned CVS around $2 billion a year, so this decision caused them to take a bit of a hit. However, I’m sure they have gained customers because of this bold decision, I know if I lived closer to a CVS I would go to it rather than Walgreens or Rite Aid. The amount of people who smoke is decreasing. It just isn’t healthy, known to cause emphysema and lung cancer. The risks of second-hand smoke are high as well. It’s one thing to subject your own body to cancerous toxins, but you have to think about the innocent lungs around your puffs of smoke. Smoking once was “the big thing.” Before we really had sweeping evidence of its dangers. Television shows like I Love Lucy and The Flintstones advertised for various cigarette brands during their broadcasts. But since then, we have learned the harms of tobacco and dramatically scaled back advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

CVS, last year, made a very brave move in going up against the tobacco companies. Although it is expected, no other pharmacy has made the same decision yet. CVS and Walgreens are both promoting themselves as businesses wellness. Last night, Walgreens aired a telethon (Red Nose Day) fundraising for health care around the world. Both CVS and Walgreens intend on having a doctor’s office-type setting in all of their doors in the future, converting from just drug stores to all around health shops. Although I regularly go to Walgreens because it is close to home and work, I have to say I do not consider them a genuine force against CVS and I will not take their “being well” campaign seriously until they follow the precedent set by CVS and cut off the tobacco companies.

Tobacco companies need to be taken down. They’ve seen the decline in cigarette sales in the United States, but being the greedy money-hungry corporations they are they’ve come up with a way to survive through the millennial generation: e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have been promoted as a “healthy” alternative to smoking. But this is NOT TRUE! E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, but they still contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals like components of anti-freeze and Tetramethylpyrazine, which is known to cause brain damage. More recently, there have been incidents of these electronic devices exploding during use. Don’t be fooled, e-cigarettes are no healthy alternative to smoking tobacco-filled cigarettes- they cause just as much harm. Puffing on e-cigarettes is seen as “cool” right now, much like smoking cigarettes was in the 1950s and 60s, but I predict we will be seeing commercials about horror health stories in about 20 years similar to those of the anti-smoking commercials we still see today.


Bill Nye & Other Netflix Adventures

Netflix just announced that they will be adding the entire series of Bill Nye the Science Guy to their online collection of movies. This is Netflix’s latest revamp of 90’s TV. Earlier this year, Netflix made all 10 seasons of Friends available to stream instantly. They have also announced that they are making a new Pee-Wee Herman movie and attempting a reboot of Full House. Following the Bill Nye announcement from Netflix, there are three main points I really want to make here. One: Netflix is taking over and will likely overthrow Television someday. Two: Bill Nye is as relevant as ever. And Three: The 1990’s are back and they’re in style.

Netflix is no longer just an easier way to find and watch movies. Thanks to Netflix (and other online streaming services) we now “binge watch” television shows. Not just shows that have stopped airing but Netflix originals. From House of Cards and Orange is the New Black to the newest series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Grace & Frankie Netflix has proved that it can make hit TV shows that are just as captivating as network television shows (and that don’t even need TV). Netflix has proved to be successful in the world of documentaries and now they have moved on to making movies. This concept was virtually unimaginable at the turn of the century and just 15 years later it’s hard to imagine a world without being able to catch an episode of a show you missed somewhere on the internet.

Since his show ended in the late 90’s, Bill Nye has continued to speak, teach and explore in the world of science. Nye had a way of explaining science to kids exceptionally well 20 years ago, but now and all those years in between Nye is also an excellent speaker for adults. His debate on Climate Change alone is evidence enough to prove that he knows what he’s talking about and he has no problem having a fact-driven conversation with someone who disagrees with him. He continues to fundraise for research to advance science and space exploration. Bill Nye’s TV show has uses beyond the classroom, and Netflix is trying to prove that. I encourage everyone with Netflix to give Bill Nye the Science Guy another watch and I hope Nye has more televised speaking events in which he can discuss and explain the facts behind things like climate change, the environment, the drought, solar power and other renewable energy sources.

New generations discovering Friends and Seinfeld. Throwback music from artists like Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande and Musiq Soulchild. Fashion trends from 20 years ago. The Clinton and Bush families are angling for the White House. Other than the extreme development of cell phones and the internet, trends of the 1990s surround us. Having only lived in that decade for 5 years, I can base my knowledge of the 90s on articles and books I’ve read. Why this sudden yearning to return to trends of the very end of the 20th century? Because the 1990s were a rather good time for the United States. For the most part there was peace (we weren’t at war/on the brink of war), the economy was booming and social change was at an all time high. It’s never good to move backward, but it’s okay to bring back elements that worked. It’s okay to improve those good elements of the past. By studying history, we can learn both what mistakes not to repeat AND what strategies and events that really worked.


The Jetsons Set the Bar for the 21st Century (at least technologically, they did)

Long before there was even an idea of Skype, robotic cleaning supplies and the Apple Watch, America had the gadgets and gizmos of the Jetson family to admire and fantasize over. While recreational trips to Mars are in the rather near future and we’re getting closer and closer to flying cars and cars that can drive themselves, not everything about the Jetsons is a reality. Their various household appliances and advanced technology are both ways in which the show transformed America’s view of what the future might look like (reading the news on a screen rather than on a piece of paper is certainly something we have all come to know very well with the significant decline in subscriptions to the nation’s largest newspapers).

However, the year of the cartoon is allegedly 2064 and Jane (the mother/wife of the Jetson crew) doesn’t have a career. The mother/wife not having a job might have worked on The Flintstones but a stark change should have been made when dealing with the social future. This of course reflects the fact that The Jetsons aired in the 1960’s and not in actual 2064, they pushed the limit at the time. We can use a simple cartoon like The Jetsons as a model for the future. Not so much for reasons pertaining to what we should have by the year 2064, but how much more we should have (technologically, socially, environmentally, etc.) by then.

As a kid, I watched reruns of The Jetsons on Boomerang and imagined the future. Flying cars and living in houses in the sky all seemed so cool. I thought about how cool it would be to fly to school, to have a mechanical closet to pick out your clothes for you and how cool it would be to have a phone conversation via TV screen. We live in the future and only some of these things are a reality. We live in the future, but we can make so much more of the future we face. Not only in technology (though it is an extremely rapidly growing industry) but in environmental changes so that 2064 has an Earth worth living on. I’ve talked about social change several times before, but 2064 will (hopefully) be extremely socially different from 2015.

Specifically technologically, we have so far to go. We have come a long way in technological advancements since 1964, but imagine where we’ll be in 2064. We only have TV shows and movies to look to for guides as to where we might be. Sure, at the actual air time or release date of movies like The Minority Report, it may have seemed like pure science fiction but now it’s clearly something to think about. Screens and computers are going to run our lives one day and we have to be open to that. We have to be able to adapt to that, not only in journalism and media but in all industries and parts of life.

Let’s use The Jetsons to as a model of the future that we can surpass, but I do want my Rosie the Robot Maid WELL before the year 2064.


The Reasons I Love Starbucks (It’s Not Just the Coffee and the Paycheck)

Aside from the wonderful array of tasty coffees, teas and pastries, Starbucks believes in empowering the middle class. Starbucks constantly defies the norms of Corporate America by proving that a company can do far more for the country than just sell coffee. Ultimately, selling coffee is what brings in the money and power over competitors, but it’s what Starbucks chooses to do with the money and power that makes a difference in the world.

Before I continue, let me just mention that although I might be biased because I am a proud Starbucks Barista, I agreed with the beliefs of the Starbucks before I started working for them and I will agree with them long after I leave the company (whenever that should be).

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit- one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” That is the mission statement Starbucks partners are encouraged to work by. Beyond just what the baristas, supervisors and managers do, Starbucks is a company that ensures that everything it does stems from the mission statement as well. There is a large focus on the human spirit and the human connection. This goes much farther than just making sure every single customer is treated respectfully, but it pushes for the idea that every person, customer or not, is treated with respect.

Starbucks remains an innovator in the world of caffeine, but also in the world of business and handling of employees. There are very few companies today that would offer to pay for it’s employees to go to college. Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University ensures that every Starbucks partner (employee) has the opportunity to go (or go back) to college without having to worry about the rising cost of getting a degree.

Starbucks’ initiative to hire 20,000 veterans/veteran’s spouses in the next 5 years is truly admirable, and more companies should make such goals to ensure that the men and women serving our country need not worry about the struggle to find work in civilian life. And although the company’s Race Together campaign did not find the praise it was looking for, the idea that a corporation as large as Starbucks wants to do something to remedy racial inequality in America today it noteworthy. Starbucks’ partnership with Oprah Winfrey to create Oprah Chai Tea has so far raised $5 million for Winfrey affiliated charities like The Oprah Winfrey Academy for Girls and Girls Inc. among others.

Starbucks locations can be found all around the world, not just in the United States and the company makes sure that their humanitarian efforts are felt in every nation they work with. Small villages and towns in South America, Africa and Asia that supply the coffee beans benefit because Starbucks follows the guidelines of fair trading as opposed to exploiting small farming regions and their people.

I have gripes just like every other person with a job in the world, but at the end of the day I am proud to work for a company that makes such huge strides towards social change. I know this post must have sounded like a giant commercial for Starbucks but I genuinely believe if more companies were like Starbucks, we would have a stronger economy and greater tolerance for everybody. Next time you set foot in a Starbucks café or go to a Starbucks drive-thru I hope you think about all the people benefitting from your simple purchase. To support Starbucks is to support the troops, the underprivileged in our own country and in countries abroad, the educations of thousands of students, and coffee bean farmers around the world. Think about that the next time you stop in for a beverage, it is quite a powerful thing to think about.