Friday, 04 October 2013 15:01

The Intersection: Honest Tea is the Best Policy

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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Honest Tea is a company that sells organic bottled tea, and has established an annual ritual to determine how well people demonstrate the quality described by its company name.  According to USA Today, the company scored honesty by setting up unattended kiosks in 61 cities, where its beverages were available for $1.  A clear, locked box was left for people to make payments. Honest Tea employees observed from nearby. 


This is not the first time that Honest has attempted to measure honesty - and gained some attention in the process.  In 2009, two Honest employees left a rolling cooler filled with Honest Tea in a public square in San Francisco with a sign that read “Please Don’t Touch; Back in 15 Minutes.” They watched from across the street, and within 15 minutes the entire cooler was emptied.


Honest Tea said that this prompted them to wonder about the honesty of people in other areas of the country.  In 2010, they brought unmanned racks to eight cities and discovered 89% of people were honest and paid for beverages, and in 2011, they focused on 12 cities in one day and 94% of people were honest.  In 2012, the National Honesty Index was born, based on tests in 35 cities over the course of one week and discovering 93% of people were honest overall.


This year, the research was expanded even further, and the results are in. Using data gathered from experiments conducted in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the National Honesty Index found that overall, Americans were honest 92% of the time.   The states deemed to be “most honest”, according to the index, with people being honest 100% of the time: Hawaii and…(yes!) Alabama! 


Seth Goldman, co-founder and CEO of Honest Tea, said, “We’ve conducted our experiment in different cities over the past few years, but this is the first time we’ve conducted the experiment on a national scale...Even though my bicycle was stolen the same day as our D.C. experiment, it’s reassuring to know that 92% of Americans will do the right thing even when it seems no one is watching.” Washington, D.C., received the lowest ranking, with participants being honest 80% of the time.


Honesty is a virtue to be celebrated, and a recent example of honesty made news. According to, there were four young men in New Jersey who entered a store called Buddy’s Small Lots, where the lights were on and door unlocked, but no clerk was on duty. The store had mistakenly been left open.


The young men called out for a clerk, but finally - after finding what they needed: headphones, sunglasses and batteries - they counted out the exact amount of money they owed and left it on the counter, signaling to the security camera that they were doing so. They even figured in the correct amount needed for tax.


After being alerted to the unlocked doors of her store by a neighboring pharmacy, the director of store operations reviewed the security footage and saw the four shoppers’ honest actions caught on tape.  She told reporters, “I thought, ‘Wow, really, do kids do this?’…I thought it was an awesome thing and I wanted to recognize them and thank them.”  She did thank them each with a $50 shopping spree to their store and they appeared on NBC’s “Today” show.


The practice of truth-telling pleases God and has many benefits for us.  At home, we expect our children to give us accurate reports and to be forthright in coming forward when they have done something wrong, rather than try to cover it up.  Once a mistake is made, to confess and apologize is an admirable quality that we should expect our kids to develop (and even model ourselves).  


In our marriages, we are not called to live secret or separate lives from our spouses, constructing scenarios where we have private endeavors that we don’t want them to know about.


In the workplace, making sure our company’s resources are properly accounted for is critical in practicing the fine art of truth-telling. Keeping an accurate tally of expenses is an example. Spending time for which your employer is paying you doing other activities is a subtle form of stealing.  


Often, no one will ever know if we’re not being totally honest.  But, the ultimate Judge will and there may be consequences for our lack of integrity.  It’s been said that integrity is something that we do when no one’s looking.  If we’re growing in Christ and desiring to obey Him, we recognize that He wants us to be people who are truthful in thought and deed.  We depend on the Holy Spirit to show us where we are falling short and to mold us into the people of honesty that He desires us to be.  




Last modified on Friday, 04 October 2013 15:10
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