Drink Pepsi, or Lemurs Will Cease to Exist.

Via Erin King
on Mar 22, 2010
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Yesterday, I drank a Pepsi…on purpose.

I know most of you are thinking, “What the hell Erin – Pepsi is evil corporate greed-head scum that rots your teeth and makes you fat!”

True, prolonged use of this delightfully carbonated swill might end up packing on ten extra pounds and cost you a few grand in porcelain veneers – but I will argue there is no tastier beverage to accompany a plate of cheese enchiladas at Efrain’s, or that can directly contribute to saving a worldwide population of lemurs.

Wait, a second – why is she talking about lemurs? What is a lemur anyway, and what is this post really about? ARRRRRGHHHH!

Lemur Femur by Erin King
"Lemur Femur" by Erin King

Okay, first a quick biology lesson. Lemurs are primates that evolved before apes and monkeys, and the live only on the island of Madagascar. Unfortunately, like almost any other charismatic mammal on the planet, every species of lemur is critically threatened.

I know this because when I incorporate lemurs into my artwork, the kind folks at the Duke Lemur Center (DLC) in Durham, North Carolina always help me out with lemur statistics, facts, and imagery. This information is vital in helping me create new and interesting compositions, so now I think it’s my turn to help them win a $50,000 grant that’s up for grabs from Pepsi.

Now, before all of you dismiss the idea that corporate money is no good to organizations like the DLC, let’s look at what Pepsi is doing to improve their junk food empire.

In January 2010, Business Week published an article about how Pepsi is “Bringing in the Health Police” by “hiring a team of idealistic scientists to find alternatives to Doritos and Mountain Dew.” This of course does nothing to immediately fix the myriad of other social issues that inevitably plagues a corporation of this magnitude, but I think they’re aware consumer demands are changing, and even Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity says, “They’re (Pepsi) the most progressive player in the industry.

Another thing I’m digging about Pepsi right now is their Refresh Project. You may recall a post written by Anna Brones for Elephant in February detailing Pepsi’s new grant program, and consequently it’s how the Duke Lemur Center could score $50K at the end of the month.

The Refresh Project allows anyone to submit an idea in one of six categories:

Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods, and Education.

Members of the community (i.e. you and me), then vote on any project we see worthy of receiving funds. The cycle renews every month with fifty projects receiving grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 – that’s $1.3 million dollars Pepsi is giving away monthly.

So I think it’s worthwhile to support Pepsi’s new philanthropy model by checking out some of these stellar projects. Voting for this cycle ends on March 31st, but you can vote everyday until then for 10 different ideas. Here are my favorites from the six categories, but please vote for what speaks to your heart – as long as it also includes the lemurs!

The Planet

Save LEMURS by growing public awareness through a new tour path. – $50,000


Develop a photography program for children at transplant centers – $25,000

Arts & Culture

Create a skate & multi-media art event series for youth in Oakland, CA – $25,000

Food & Shelter

Create the first ever statewide domestic violence shelter – $250,000


Help low income pet owners–“The Paws-itive Solution” for Spay/Neuter – $25,000


Refresh classroom libraries in public schools across America – $250,000


About Erin King

The most important thing you’ll ever know about Erin is that, in general, she prefers the company of wild animals to people. It’s not that she doesn’t like you, it’s just that furry critters are much more obvious with their intentions, i.e. they’re either going to eat, maim, or ignore you. Ah, the simplicity of it all. Personally, she finds the rest of this “about me” section to be pretty yawn inducing, but hey, you’re the one that clicked on her name. Erin owns a business in Boulder, CO by the name of Deadwilder Design & Illustration . Under it’s guise she works as a fine artist, scientific illustrator, and graphic designer. She went to college twice, and as a result received a BFA in Studio Art from Texas Tech University in 1999, and a MS in Museum and Field Studies from the University of Colorado in 2005.


10 Responses to “Drink Pepsi, or Lemurs Will Cease to Exist.”

  1. um …. so selling death water and diverting the profits into 'world changing' enterprises, including health, is an intelligent use of resources?

    certainly happy to support the projects – but no interest in supporting Pepsi

  2. Tim pedersen says:

    What is so cool about this is where the money is coming from. Pepsi decided to put their Super Bowl advertising money into the community which now funding the Refresh project. So, instead of it going into the greedy hands of the television execs, it is seeding communities all over the US (to the tune of $1.3 million a month!). The Path to Tomorrow project for the Duke Lemur Center will create about 7 jobs through construction and support. So job creation, a chance to spark the spirit of young conservationists / ecologists / biologists, and the chance for the community to share in the wonder of these amazing creatures – looks like a homerun to me! Keep voting – they are hovering around 22 and need to get back above 20 to participate for another month and in the top 10 to win the $50k.

  3. Erin King says:

    Thanks Tim – I'm so excited to hear exactly what the Duke Lemur Center would do with the funds, and will continue to do my best to keep them in the running!

  4. Drinking Pepsi is totally not required for these organizations to win grants from PepsiCo. This kind of conscious capitalist logic takes away money from actual philanthropy. Instead of buying a Pepsi, send a dollar directly to the Duke Lemur center, a *much* bigger overall percentage contribution, and zero dollars spent on diabetes-inducing acidic fizzy sugar water.

  5. An environmentally conscious excuse to keep up my teeth-destroying Pepsi habit??!!
    I will ask no questions…

  6. Greg says:

    Oh, man, all the CBO projections for ObamaCare were based on you not drinking Pepsi. Now we're screwed.

  7. values says:

    what's interesting is where the money comes from: the average joe who wouldn't give a damn about anything ecological/social etc. indirectly pays a tribute to a better world.
    long overdue, the big brands need to rediscover the philantropic values and it would be nice to see more of these initiatives growing into what could become a better place, one softdrink at a time.
    i assume that none of the EJ readers would drink a pepsi, hence you guys may still donate directly to the organizations.
    ps: i drink a coke zero from time to time, just to remind myself how awful it tastes…

  8. christina says:

    Nice to see these things happening. But still I agree with Duff. Skip the Pep and donate directly.

    Multienormous corporations' primary agenda will always be their capital bottom line.

    If the Lemur work can make people choose this brand over others, it greatly benefits exactly that.

    PLUS they might be able to gain new customers that'd normally never drink their product

    – because now consumers can do so with a clear conscience and even feel they are helping the environment!

    And you yourself seem to have been caught by exactly that agenda – giving Pepsi free advertisement by writing this post…

    All my best, most sincere wishes of good for the lemurs and every other threatened species on this planet.

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