Wednesday was the first day for one of our summer interns, Brian. I have known Brian for a long time; probably dating back to when he was 7. He is Mike’s younger cousin, and I am very close with the entire family. In fact, his parents were one of the first very smart people to invest in Atayne.
I must note that Brian being an intern is not at all a case of nepotism. He is a great kid (well, I guess I have to call him a man now), and he is the reason we decided to bring on interns this summer. It was a thought in my mind, but he reached out to me this spring saying he would love the opportunity to intern with Atayne. I offered him a position and then decided to explore bringing on a couple other college students.
While one of the reasons for the intern program is to help me cross off some things on my “To Do List” that have been piling up the last 2 years, there is also another major reason for it. I want to expose some young, energetic minds to the idea that business can be a tool for positive change. Maybe one of the Atayne interns will go on to start the next Stonyfield Farms, Ben & Jerry’s, Honest Tea, or Atayne.
As part of Brian’s first day, I had him devote most of it to reviewing some great resources to help get him in the Atayne frame of mind. One thing in particular I had Brian watch was the Story of Stuff . If you have not seen it yet, it is well worth the 20 minutes. As Brian said, “At first I was like, great this thing is 20 minutes…. but once it started I got into it. It was really good.”
After watching the movie, Brian dug a little deeper. He went to the Another Way section of the website and eventually made his way to the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database. He started to explore the database, entering products that he uses daily, from toothpaste to soap. He soon realized that most of the products he used had pretty high toxicity levels. One thing he found very interesting is that sunscreen, a product designed to help prevent skin cancer, contains a lot of chemicals that are linked to cancer. As Brian put it, “It seems counter productive. It’s like an eye opener.”
If that is the only thing that Brian learns this summer, the internship program was a success in my book. Brian learned something in one day, that unfortunately, most adults never have their eyes opened to. I would encourage everyone to follow Brian’s lead. Learn about and pay attention to what is in the products you buy. From food and clothing to furniture and toys, it sometimes is mind boggling when you consider all the harmful materials and chemicals with which we surround ourselves and our children.
On a positive note, there are companies who are making products that aren’t so harmful to people and the planet. Learn a few chemicals to avoid (we try to avoid parabens, for one) and make your job easier by shopping at a retailer with knowledgeable staff.