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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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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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Hot Wheels, Barbies, Sustainability, OH MY!

Mattel is a company that has influenced most of our childhoods. They are the creators of most of our beloved childhood toys, from Barbie to Hot Wheels. It’s hard to imagine that a company that has brought so much joy to many lives could also be a threat to the environment and deceitful through greenwashing. Greenwashing is a blanketed term that refers to ways companies divert attention away from their waste and carbon footprints by improving slightly in some areas. According to Kathleen Shaver, the director of corporate responsibility, Mattel is “committed to playing responsibly”. One of Mattel’s’ goals is to reduce the weight of their products (toys) by 5% which means using less resources. Another objective is to “improve their packaging material efficiency by 5% by 2015”. These efficiency improvements have started by using “noncontroversial sources” that are defined by some arbitrary rules they made up. One description I found of their requirement was to use materials where the sources were known. So I guess as long as you know which forest you are destroying it is alright. Their future goal is to have 85% of their packaging be recycled materials by 2015. It is a nice notion and a step in the right direction but there are other issues that arise when it comes to recycling such as energy and emissions. Lastly, they hope to reduce carbon emissions to 50% by 2020 but give no examples on how that will be achieved.

If I were to make suggestions to Mattel my first would be to completely eliminate packaging all together when possible. Even if all of their packaging was recycled after a consumer buys a product they trash the packaging again. Odds are it will stay in the landfill. If toothbrushes used to be sold in buckets, then why can’t we do the same with little toy cars? Next, I would suggest eliminating all plastic materials from toys when possible. I don’t see why my piece on a game board cannot be stone or even glass. Lastly I would suggest having more, small factories so when shipping products it is a smaller distance and not outsourced overseas. This will also bring jobs to many places areas all over the world. I believe these achievable suggestions are ones that will actually help the environment without completely dismantling their company.

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Dawn Dish Soap

As for a solution to this problem its a little difficult because I don’t know much about oil or the chemicals used in this dish soap. The simple solution would be to use less harmful chemicals in making the soap. This may not be possible id those chemicals are what remove the oil and grease the best. The outlandish solution would be to remove all oil centers out of the ocean. I understand that we are able to get a lot of oil that way but the risk of an oil spill is too great. Oil spills can take months to clean and the water is never really the same after that. Wildlife can’t thrive with unclean water. Putting more oil centers on land isn’t the best solution but it could save more animals that way. An even crazier idea would be to get rid of all oil centers and find a renewable resource to use, again I really have no idea what we could do other than to stop using it.