Greenwashing

Consume This!

This is a crude beginning to hopefully interesting blog based around consumer issues that hopefully you will be interested in and take action in changing to help our global environment.

Do you know what “Greenwashing” is? Well, let’s think about some things for a second… What pops into your mind when you hear the words, Organic, Sustainable, Compostable, Recycleable, or Green? I think of beautiful vegetables at a farmer’s market, blue and green waste bins, or even spring water. These things are good things, wouldn’t you say? It makes me feel good to consume things that I think have little to no impact on the planet. Unfortunately, the people selling you these things marketed as green or sustainable know that about you.

Companies market themselves to you as being or upholding the values of something in one way, but do not in fact do the things they say. But, you already know this, it’s just called advertising, right? Right. But there is more to it than that. Greenwashing enters stage left and steps into the lime(green)light. Marriam-Webster defines Greenwashing as ‘expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities’. It is using the environment to cover the harmful aspects of their products so that you will buy and consume them.

Let me just give you a little taste of what Greenwashing is in practice and why it is so fascinating and infuriating . I will probably elaborate on this same example as it is one of my favorites, but bear with me.

Coca-Cola had a campaign going where they would sell bottles with white caps with a little Polar Bear printed on the top. They would give a percentage of each bottle’s revenue to a Polar Bear Preserve. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but let me hold your attention for a bit longer while we take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Coke uses plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are made from petroleum which needs to be extracted from the Earth. That’s bad. Plastic bottles are often not recycled or when they have lived through their useful life, they are sent to sit in a landfill, or get washed away to eventually end up in the ocean. That’s bad too. Water is needed to make Coke, so Coke pumps it up from the ground in places like Michigan leaving wells dry and contaminated. That’s also pretty bad. Coke must be trucked and flown all across the world in order for it to be sold and drank. This causes massive dumping of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s really bad. So when Coke gives a penny per bottle (or whatever the rate may be) to the Polar Bears because of Climate Change, one must wonder, “Why does it matter if they are saving room on the ice for Polar Bears when Coke has a huge hand in melting all of it in the first place?”

That is an example of Greenwashing, and I hope it scares you. There’s much more to come on topics related to these. Please stay tuned.

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