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Simple Green Really Isn’t Green!

My proposal to this issue would be to research an actual all-natural cleaning solution that contains no chemicals. This will probably never happen though because money is power and the companies that own these so-called “green” products have all the green! If someone came up with an all-natural cleaner one of the big businesses would just buy them so they would just disappear and the cleaner would disappear as well. Stuff like this happens all the time. I believe that the only way this could happen is to have a major uprising against the big businesses that are producing these “green” products or pass laws stating that in order to claim a green product they have to actually have all green ingredients in said product.

Steven House

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“All Natural” Food

For this example, I’m defining greenwashing as a business misleading its consumer base about the environmental benefits of its product in a way that increases their profit. Essentially it’s false marketing targeting the growing population of people who want to buy things that make them feel like they’re making a positive difference particularly where the environment is concerned. The concept I’ll be critiquing is food labels that purport the product to be “all natural,” a term that, despite being named the most popular claim used on labels by the Shelton Group, has no universal or regulated meaning. The “all natural” label is effective because it means different things to different people – it appeals to a diverse group of people. The USDA, which only regulates meat, defines natural as a product that contains “no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed.” The natural label on meat speaks only to what is done (or rather, isn’t done) to the meat after the animal is killed; it doesn’t take into account how the animal was raised prior to slaughter (what it was fed, what it was injected with, etc). The natural label becomes even more ambiguous when applied to non-meat products as then it essentially means nothing at all. This is great news for companies looking to appeal to consumers’ ethical concerns without actually doing anything differently which is why this is a quintessential example of greenwashing.

The most obvious takeaway from this is that there should be more regulation concerning food, or any other product, labels. Ideally, people should also do more research about what they buy and who they buy from but of course if people had been doing that from the beginning the “all natural” label would never have been such a successful bit of marketing. If companies were required to accurately label their products and not allowed to use meaningless labels, it would be easier for people to make more informed choices about what they buy. Regulation is the only solution to this problem that would actually work in practice. The problem is that this goes against the interests of corporations and it is difficult to get anything progressive done in America if it threatens corporate interests. This heavily ties into C. Wright Mills concept of the power elite vs the powerless, complacent citizen. Making this solution a reality would require a cultural transformation – people would need to be more informed, involved, and vocal about regulating our food and food labels, for one. I think if this cultural transformation were to happen, everything else would be forced to change. Alas, this is unlikely to occur anytime soon.

-Anna Boutchard

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The Cover Up

Ashleigh Shannon

Green-wash (green’wash’, -wôsh’) – verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

There are Seven Sins of advertisement form companies: Sin of Vagueness, Sin of Irrelevance, Sin of Hidden Trade-off, Sin of Lesser of the Two Evils, Sin of Fibbing, Sin of No Proof, and lastly the Sin of Worshiping False Labels. Greenwashing is most common in three household categories: Kids (toys and baby products), Cosmetics (beauty and health), and Cleaning Products.
From the sinsofgreenwashing.org site, they provide their study of their case in 2009, which unravels the false pretenses of how companies reel in their consumers to make them believe, that they are, in fact, doing the right thing for the environment.
Here’s a excerpt out of their executive summary;

More products are making environmental claims. The total number of ‘green’ products increased by an average of 79% (a range between 40% and 176%) in stores that were visited in both 2007 and 2008. (In a related TerraChoice study, the rate of green advertising was found to have almost tripled since 2006.)Greenwashing is still rampant, with more than 98% of ‘green’ products committing at least one of the Sins. Compared to the 2007 study, there appears to be a small decline in the frequency of greenwashing, but it is not statistically significant. Of 2,219 products making green claims in the United States and Canada, only 25 products were found to be Sin-free.
Eco-labeling is on the rise. Legitimate eco-labeling is nearly twice as common as it was last year, increasing from 13.7% to 23.4% on all ‘green’ products in the report. Kids (toys and baby products), cosmetics and cleaning products are three categories in which green claims – and greenwashing – are most common. These products, among the most common products in most households, deserve particular scrutiny from consumers. Greenwashing is an international challenge, with very similar patterns in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The most significant differences between these countries are the environmental issues associated with the claims made on products. Water conservation was more common in Australia for example, and recyclability in the United States.

So I propose a question, If there’s a false sense of hope being put into the world by our naive mindsets, are WE willing to change it to actually make a GREEN world?

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Greenwashing Zoos

There are several conservation benefits that are claimed by zoos, things like how zoos preserve the collections of animals, they protect endangered species of many at-risk animals, they are a safe-haven for animals, but in fact don’t zoos actually rob animals of their own natural, normal life? In many ways zoos have tried to fight their position as “Wildlife Conservationists,” but the fact is that wildlife conservationists should restore habits and be able to reintroduce these species back into the wild. Yet, the animals that are presented in zoos are rarely introduced back into the environment. In fact, I would argue that zoos care more about conserving their own stocks of animals in their zoos than the animals and species outside in the wild. Although, zoos had a good intention to protect and conserve animal species, it has only turned into a way that eco-tourism has taken over to create a market value from the observation of animals. Zoos have used their good intentions to present an ‘eco-friendly’ solution to the protection of animals, but instead have captured these animals and robbed them of their normal life and have charged people to see these exploited animals.
To solve this problem of greenwashing zoos, I would suggest to have more government and non-government agencies involved in the restoration and reintroduction of habitats. Organization like the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund are excellent organizations that protect and preserve animal species by sheltering them in their natural environments. This method is more eco-friendly because it ultimately does not alter the animals ecosystem. Zoos have tried to build bigger cages, or create an area where the animals feel at home with no stress, but the only way for the animals’ to not suffer from anxiety and abnormal behavior induced by captivity is to allow them to be in the wild and we need to meet the needs of the wildlife in their own habitat. This can only be done through social and political change.

Monica Rivara

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What “GE” really stands for.

My name is Samuel Washington and I believe General Electric (GE) is one of the worst culprits of green-washing. GE is a Fortune 500 company that has some of the most creative advertising/marketing professionals. These professionals are able to manipulate, mislead, and confuse the public into thinking that they are an “eco-friendly” company that is “going-green” in order to “save the planet”, and that you should buy their household appliances because they are more energy-efficient. GE launched its “Ecomagination” campaign back in 2005 and has spent millions and millions of dollars in order to promote that their appliances are better for the environment, they have even had a Super Bowl ad. What the public needs to realize is that GE is the fifth largest chemical producing company in the world and while their household appliances may be more eco-friendly than others, you would need to purchase every single GE brand appliance in order to see a real difference.

An alternative approach to solve the problem of is that maybe the Government should get rid of monopoly laws for some industries if the outcome would help the environment and ultimately save the planet. This way, everyone would buy GE brand appliances meaning they’d be using the most energy-efficient ones.

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Green Spirits

So American spirits have always been getting into trouble with their slogans such as “additive free” which insinuated that they produce a safer cigarette. this is not the case and soon after they started using that slogan they were forced to add “No additives in our tobacco does not mean a safer cigarette.” Now in AMerican Spirit adds in magizines they are taking the “eco Friendly approach. They claim that American Spirits are eco friendly because In 2010 they saved 280,000 paper towels in their office as well as 30,000 disposable cups by switching to glazed mugs. In addition their sales team saved 312 barrels of oil by switching to a hybrid car fleet. I fail to see how this makes American Spirit cigarettes eco friendly. How can something that is proven to kill humans be eco friendly? Not to mention that cigarettes are one of the most littered thing in our country. This is a prime example of greenwashing. This company has a few small aspects that one could call “green” therefor they say overall they are a green, eco friendly company.

If American spirits really wanted to truthfully say they are an eco friendly company I would suggest the following. First of all one of the biggest things that must be addressed when taking about cigarettes are the incredibly high levels of cigarette butts being littered through out the streets. everywhere we go we see mounds of cigarette butts collected in the gutters and the cracks of the sidewalks. If they were to develop a more biodegradable cigarette filter that would be a good first step. Next I would say that in addition to their sales team having a fleet of hybrid cars that every automobile used to transport products made by this company should all be hybrids at the very least and at best be car that completely run on alternative energy. However at the end of the day cigarettes still create smoke and that ultimately makes it not an eco friendly product. When you account for all the smoke just nation wide plus the carbon footprint from all the tobacco farms required to run this company it becomes clear that there re more steps they can take in an eco friendly direction but overall they will never have a totally eco friendly product.

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Green Cleaning

Many products have become increasingly labeled green when this is either not the whole truth or a flat out lie. Companies doing this to make consumers buy their product because they are fooled into thinking it is helping the environment is a way to describe greenwashing. Greenwashing is a more recent phenomenon where large companies distract consumers from the very negative effects of our industrial and disposible society by making consumers feel they are changing this by buying “green” products. One product that this has been apparent in is cleaning products. Cleaning products have increasingly been labeled green. This can be somewhat truthful or a lie. Unfortunately either way it doesn’t make it any better for the environment. This is the case because green materials aren’t as efficient at cleaning as tradition cleaning ingredients that are more harmful to the environment. However, sense they are less efficient that means that they require more packaging, more waste, more plastic which means more oil, more fuel, and more problems for the environment. This defeats all purpose of them being “green” and may even be less green than the generic counterpart. This example of greenwashing suggest we may need to changes things. It could suggest we change simple things like the restrictions to label your products as green is a small change but doesn’t change much. A larger change would be to eliminate small bottles of cleaner and find a new way to deliver cleaner to people who need it.

A way to greatly eliminate this greenwashing due to cleaning supplies would be to change the entire system of selling them. Instead of the current system where you can go to the store and but 100 different bottles of cleaning solution with a fifth or a quarter labeled green there would be one main supply system for a multi purpose cleaner. The government could start to implement a large tax on all individually bottled cleaners. While also contracting the largest supplier to create the greenest most effective multi-purpose cleaner. Then the government could then start to create infrastructure around the U.S. for this public mutli-purpose cleaner. It would eliminate the waste from all the bottle used and then thrown away and would make people have their own bottle or bucket that they would keep. This infrastructure could be delivered directly to everyone’s home like water or have public access point where people could pay near nothing comparatively to individually bottled. This would be a realistic effective way to eliminate a lot of trash, oil, fuel, and could show people that they do not need to be part of the giant societal fall of consumerism and waste with disposable goods. This would be a solution to help stop multi-purpose cleaners from greenwashing Americans and create a functional system to get the public a product they need.

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False eco-claims in the hospitality industry

There is an increasing trend in going green and claiming eco-friendly services. Many companies including hotels are marketing more eco-friendly alternatives, but are consumers aware of the legitimacy of these “greener” options. Many hotels spend more time and money claiming to be green rather than actually applying these practices to reduce their environmental impact. They slap a green label on anything possible to attract visitors. Of course the savvy eco-friendly traveler will pay a little more to help the environment, but are they really getting what they paid for. Lets take towel usage as an example, it is common to see a place holder to give visitors the option of reusing their towel by hanging them up, thus reducing water usage. Think about it, housekeepers replace towels on a daily basis, does one towel really make that much of a difference. A great amount of water is still being used, making the reuse of a towel insignificant. The same situation goes for sheets, but in reality, not getting your sheets washed everyday during your stay does not save the planet, and often, sheets and towels end up getting washed anyway. Another green alternative in some hotels are the use of recycling bins, but unfortunately housekeepers are still seen throwing recycled items into their trashcans when cleaning rooms. At the end of the day, these placeholders are suggesting that we recycle in anyway possible and to always choose an environmentally friendly alternative. This should remain unchanged although the effect of reusing towels and sheets seems to be insignificant compared to all other energy used in a hotel building.
For hotels to be less green washed there should be only one organization to oversee the legitimacy of a green hotel. Because of independent organizations, standards are obviously going to be different. So some hotel may have certifications that would not pass another organizations requirements. But this would be difficult for one place to oversee all hotels worldwide, which choose to take a more eco-friendly route. Or better yet, one towel per person, no sheets washed until check out, reduce prices for customers because they wont have a fresh pillow case or towel every morning.

Twambo Moyo

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Open ( Percieved ) Happiness

The idea of a environmentally friendly product that reduces the harmful emissions and carbon traces it leaves sounds like a wonderful idea. On paper. In reality, it’s often too good to be true, and is unfortunately the point of this assignment. Coca Cola intentionally stated in their ad that this new plant bottle was more environmentally sustainable and did more to reduce its effects rather then just ignore them. Not everyone was sold, and did a little digging. As it turns out, not only did the material used for the bottle not align with what the corporation stated, it was actually illegal. They offered no documented proof whatsoever that the plant bottle did these things, and just assumed the consumer would believe them. Another thing Coca Cola left out was the whole recyclable plant material bit. It actually depends on where the bottle is made. In Denmark, only 10 – 12% of the bottle was recyclable. Coca Cola responded that it still used less plastic then before, even if it wasn’t by much. It wasn’t in the pubic attention until an environmental organization called Forests Of The World stepped in and filed a complaint against Coca Cola, stating that they violated the Danish and European Marketing Practices Act. Coca Cola couldn’t demonstrate or prove that the new plant bottle had a positive effect regarding the CO2 emissions. It doesn’t help that Coca Cola also promised that this new plant bottle initiative would cut 20 million metric tons of CO2 with the entire manufacturing and distribution process. There are simply too many variables in play to accurately account for the CO2 reductions.

It’s great that more and more corporations and businesses are trying to be more green in this very crucial part in time. What’s more important though is that they are honest and effective in how they go about doing it. Just saying that a product lessens its effect on the world isn’t good enough. Say it’s going to do something and do it, simple as that. If Coca Cola really wanted to pursue this green initiative, that great. Some better ways it could accomplish that is if they set realistic goals and kept the public informed in how they’re going to accomplish said goal. If they still want the plant bottle that’s great. How about make the bottle mostly if not entirely out of recyclable material, that way more plastic is reused instead of filling up landfills because there’s too much. The whole point is to make a positive impact, so even if the packing isn’t possible; perhaps an incentive can be given to refill old coke bottles instead of manufacturing new ones. Use less energy and emit less C02, and reward the loyal consumers for making a difference. It might not be the most profitable choice for corporations, but if they’re serious about going green, these are some of the things they can do, even if just for the publicity.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/09/11/coke-defends-plantbottle-green-claims/ (Coca Cola Claims)
https://www.verdensskove.org/en/node/35317 ( Forests Of The World Case)
http://youtu.be/MDBrO82CErk ( Plant Bottle Ad)

Michael Dizon

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FOREVER Solar?

“Forever 21 is in a unique position to encourage innovation and accelerate the adoption of clean energy, including solar power,” said Don Chang, founder and CEO of Forever 21. “We are honored to be part of this program and to be contributing to L.A.’s goal of generating 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.”

Working with LADWP’s (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) Feed-In Tariff (FiT) program, FOREVER XXI will be able to use customer-focused, local solar programs to generate solar power for their own use, as well as to benefit the entire city with clean renewable energy.

However, at the same time that they are announcing this new solar project, they are opening an 18,000-square-foot concept store that promises the cheapest of the cheap. Yes. Solar panels are an excellent source of energy, in this case it will avoid the annual production of almost 13 million pounds of carbon dioxide – equal to the emissions created by burning 6 million pounds of coal, or the equivalent of taking 1,200 passenger cars off the roads.

When you fall under a category of “fast fashion” and promise the “cheapest of the cheap,” one wonders. When consumers purchase items that they can only wear once or twice before it starts to fall about, and wish to immediately replace it, it begins a repetitive cycle of purchase and dispose. Not only the cost for material for the clothing, but the expenses and resources used to ship out the products. The vast paychecks of the companies CEO’s. They constantly have new styles, shipped in almost daily. Since stuff isn’t being made in large quantities, there is more material waste. Now there are extra costs related to shipping the products so far, so quickly.

FOREVER XXI’s 5.1 megawatt high efficiency solar panel system is great, but it’s only a drop in a vast bucket of water. There are a lot more things they need to change, such as transportation methods, material efficiency, etc., before they can be seen as truly eco-friendly.
-Beth Hosick