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Chevron Greenwashing

Brandon Steele

Chevron has an entire page on their website about how they are “environmentally friendly.” This page dedicated for you to believe that they are a green company. The first thing I noticed was that the front page of the website has a nice picture of a lake and mountain and it says protecting nature. Underneath the picture is a vague explanation of what they do to protect nature. Chevron says “We believe that preserving a clean, safe, healthy environment can go hand in hand with meeting the world’s energy needs. We are continually evaluating and striving to improve our processes to reduce pollution and waste, conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce the potential for environmental impacts of our activities and operations.” This is a great thing but, there was no proof that they were actually trying to do what they were saying. Just below this quote is four pages which you can get more info about how they’re environmentally friendly in water, biodiversity, greenhouse gas, and energy efficiency. Click on the more info page bring you to another paragraph about how they are reducing the usage of water by recycling it. The problem is that they can say they are recycling the water all they want without any consequences. This is greenwashing. Chevron says that they are recycling water but they have almost no proof that they actually are. The other problem is that they have no information on their website about how much they are actually recycling water and how much of an impact it really is making. Chevron could be helping the environment but without solid information and statistics they are just saying they are and greenwashing anyone who reads about how they are environmentally friendly. The same general thing is going on for each page on Chevrons website a bunch of hopes and promises that sound good but little to zero proof.

Chevron is greenwashing in my opinion. I want to believe that every company is doing the best they can to be green but that is simply not the case. Yes, Chevron probably does try to be green, but I believe this is only for a good public image or laws that say they have to be green. I would have liked to see graphs and data collection to show how green they really are and how green they are compared to other companies. The best way to show that they were actually doing what they are saying would be to have a picture by picture step process on how they were green. Chevron should also show stats on how they’re being more green year by year. Another thing they could do is take before and after pictures of the surrounding areas they could be affecting and there factories. I believe that the best way to stop greenwashing all together is for people to be aware of what is happening. I think that their should be laws to help stop pollution but what will push the agenda on this would be public awareness. I believe that greenwashing will be nearly impossible to get rid of big businesses will always be able to convince people that they are being green because of the money they can spend on advertising.

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Greenwashing Hotels

In hotels all over the world, placards and brochures are beginning to show up in guests’ rooms with sayings such as “Save Our Planet: Millions of gallons of water are used to wash towels that have only been used once. You make the choice.” and “Make a green choice, reward yourself and help the environment”. In this way, hotels are able to brand themselves as being eco-friendly. Some hotels may be doing this with positive intentions, trying to lessen their environmental impact by using less water, less electricity, and less materials by starting recycling programs; but, overall these programs are greenwashing. The dictionary definition of greenwashing is “disinformation that is disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image”. By using slogans along the lines of “Using less towels at OUR hotel will reward you and save the planet!”, hotels are mainly aiming to bring in the population of people who strive to be eco-friendly by saying “You need to stay in OUR hotel in order to save the planet!”. In reality, even if these ‘green’ hotel programs are created with good intentions, there are many hidden trade-offs and benefits that benefit the hotel, not the environment. Examples include hotels that may install solar panels that are visible and create a good public image, but then failing to implement a water conservation program. The intentions of the hotel are also brought to attention when it is discovered that many of these programs bring more profit to the hotel than anything else because by having the customers opt to not have their room and towels cleaned, less cleaning staff is needed, therefore the company spends less money on employees. Finally, part of greenwashing is trying to maintain a good public image when your product or service is inherently not eco-friendly, the term we used in class was ‘mitigating guilt’. Hotels as a whole are not eco-friendly. The Responsible Tourism Initiative has stated that “Hotels generally use more energy per visitor than local residents, as they have energy intense facilities, such as bars, restaurants, and pools, and have more spacious rooms”. Also, “tourists demand more water than local residents on a per capita basis (Essex, Kent & Newnham, 2004). It has been estimated by Salen (1995) that 15,000 cubic meters of water would typically supply 100 rural farmers for three years and 100 urban families for two years, yet only supply 100 luxury hotel guests for less than two months (Holden, 2000). ” This shows that “Save the planet” programs in hotel are just helping the guests mitigate guilt by making a few changes in their stay such as using dirty towels or recycling in order to make them feel okay about using more energy and resources than they would staying in a smaller bed and breakfast. In conclusion, these ‘green’ programs do more to aid hotels in gaining competitive advantages, loyal customers, brand value, and recognition than they do in aiding environmental sustainability.

While saving water by washing fewer towels and trying to implement energy saving programs are steps in the right direction, they do not warrant “You are saving the planet!” slogans. It is hard to come up with a solution since hotels are businesses that use a lot of energy in order to run and make a profit. My solution would be to create a program, either state run or nationally run, that would create standards for green hotels. This is a better solution because it would lead to less greenwashing – in order for a hotel to call it’s programs ‘green’, the hotel would have to meet certain sustainability standards. It would be difficult to implement such programs because different sustainability practices work better in some areas than others, so even though creating a national standard is ideal, that will not work. Also, many people who stay in hotels regularly like having a home away from home that they can always count on, so creating large changes such as this may create social backlash. In order to make this solution into a reality, strict regulations would have to be put in place in order to insure that hotels really are reducing their impact, not just continuing to greenwash.

That solution of immediately going to regulation may seem simple, so my more creative solution would be to work on promoting bed and breakfast owners in order to help their businesses grow. As shown in the first paragraph, its kind of hard to have a hotel that doesn’t require more energy per person than the average resident. It would be more environmentally friendly to promote the use of local bed and breakfast locations rather than building more hotels. Bed and breakfasts are known for their ‘homey’ feel, so if they became more popular, it’s possible that energy could be saved in terms of building by using houses in neighborhoods that are not in use. Remodeling an old home to turn into a bed and breakfast is much better than going into an area and building a large hotel that may upset the culture and environment in a certain area. Using more bed and breakfasts would require a social change though. These areas do not offer guests a lot of privacy because the owner tends to live in the house, and guests usually share amenities such as TVs, bathrooms, and dining areas. If consumers were shown how cost efficient, energy efficient, and sustainable bed and breakfasts are compared to ‘normal’ hotels, this solution could work.

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Your “Eco-Friendly” Stay

So I guess I’ll start with my name because it says I have to include it in this post, I’m Max Truong. This is a post about the OG greenwashing, “eco-friendly” hotels; more specifically, how some hotels say they are conserving resources by allowing consumers the option to reuse their towels and sheets or have them replaced. The premise of this was to decrease usage of washing machines and dryers which would decrease emissions and waste. However, the deception was uncovered when people realized that hotels are far more wasteful in other departments such as their kitchens and utilities and lighting. Less washing and drying of sheets and towels actually saved hotels money and did little for the environment. This sort of greenwashing is almost as lucrative and deceiving as McDonald’s changing their European colors from red and yellow to green and yellow to promote the environment.

I propose that hotels should actually consider reducing waste and conserving their resources where it is more important. As stated above, many hotels waste quite a bit through their kitchens and lighting; both of which can become more eco-friendly and less wasteful with proper investment. Simple things such as changing out their light bulbs for more efficient ones, consider actually listening to consumers when they want to reuse towels and sheets, using eco-friendly appliances, etc. These are just a few ways hotels can move forward to becoming an actual eco-friendly, green business.

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Tube Free or not Tube Free?

Kimberly Clark Corp. has created a cardboard-free toilet paper roll. Their claim is that our country uses up to 17 billion cardboard tubes every year. For some reason they chose to compare this amount to filling The Empire State building twice. Scott Naturals, the specific toilet paper brand within the corporation, created the tube-less roll a couple years back and tested it on the public in the Northeastern parts of the country. It wasn’t until recently that it has been launched nationwide. They claim that their customers want to be “greener”, but are unwilling to pay extra for it. This company is employing a perfect example of greenwashing by allowing the public to believe that their toilet paper usage is causing mass amounts of waste and if they truly cared about the environment they would go green with the tube-less roll. A quote found in an article on this topic, “The cost to the company is about the same, according to Kimberly-Clark” is astonishing. If it is truly using less material/waste, wouldn’t it in fact be cheaper for the company?

That being said, I do
not know how possible it would be to come up with an entirely effective or completely “green” alternative. One idea that does come to mind is to ditch the idea of toilet paper altogether. We could revert to using individualized cloths that were to be cleaned after each use. They are re-usable, cost-effective, and obviously no tube is involved. Less labor would be required in the making and transporting of the cloths because we would not utilize the services as frequently as we do toilet paper. At the same time, though this would be a difficult thing to implement into our culture. A social transformation would need to occur before we would even consider losing the convenience and simplicity of toilet paper. The idea of handling feces ridden rags does not necessarily sound appealing either. Can our culture overcome this issue or are we confined to the tissue? I argue that is would be possible to eventually move past the consumerism of toilet paper if it became more normalized in our society.

Article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2735424/Roll-times-U-S-company-takes-cardboard-OUT-toilet-paper-time-century-cut-waste.html
Fantastic video with award-winning acting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q0QN6TT8Vw