“Toothbrushes: We started using them around the time of our 2nd birthdays. Our entire lives we’ve been told that in order to have a healthy smile, we need to brush our teeth both morning & night, and replace it every 3 to 4 months. But, what about the unfriendly side of our healthy and happy smiles? How can something we so mindlessly use every single day, and replace multiple times a year be wreaking havoc on our environment?”
This past week, five JMU students traveled to Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA to compete against nearly 30 universities from around the world in the annual International Business Ethics and Sustainability Case Competition (IBESCC) and addressed this very question. How can it be that something so integral to our everyday lives will find itself in a landfill or our waterways for the next 400 years? The team consisted of five seniors: Hayden Gerloff, Katrina Libera, Julia Lindsey, Blair Ritter, and Miranda Via. After working all semester together, these five students presented on how Colgate can help tackle this problem through the production of a biodegradable toothbrush.
Once arriving in L.A., we quickly worked to get in a few last minute run-throughs of the main presentation. On Thursday morning, the team rose early to present their 25-minute pitch to the fictional Executive Board of Colgate. All five members of the team presented their PowerPoint presentation flawlessly, using the 8KQ to guide the analysis they delved into throughout the semester. Following their presentation, the panel of judges asked an array of questions regarding the specifics of the team’s three-step solution to implementing a biodegradable toothbrush at Colgate.
The following day, Julia, Katrina, and Miranda presented in front of fictional Executives again to dive deeper into the ethical dimensions of their proposed toothbrush solution. For 10 minutes, the team used the 8KQ to unpack the complexity of implementing a biodegradable toothbrush, as well as the adverse effects that plastic toothbrushes have on our environment. These three stood out among their division because of their ethical analysis and apt communication skills.
Shortly after the ethical presentation, Hayden presented a 90-second elevator pitch to another fictional Executive of Colgate. During this presentation, Hayden was tasked with explaining the importance of sustainability to an Executive while pitching the necessity for a solution. He started off by questioning the status quo in business and then followed this by explaining how Colgate can become the leader of the toothbrush industry through a turn towards sustainability.
After all of the presentations were completed, the team attended a closing banquet and award ceremony. For the first time in the three years that JMU has competed in the IBESCC competition, the team received first place for their 90-second presentation. All of their hard work paid off and it clearly showed in their presentations.
All of us here at Ethical Reasoning in Action are extremely proud of each of these students. Their work shines light on an often forgotten aspect of our everyday lives and were able to effectively reason towards an actionable solution using the 8KQ. The award given for the 90-second presentation merely scratches the surface of the praise they are deserving.