Monday, April 23, 2012

List #22: Greenwashing

The Sprog has gotten noticed, as of late, by the PR companies who are desperate to harness the power of the blogger for free advertising. I signed up for a directory of sorts & since then I've been getting press releases & email offering interviews with various B-list celebs who've branched out into side businesses, authors of self improvement books, as well as a lot of NEW! IMPROVED! GREEN! [fill-in-the-blank]. After reading through & critiquing a few of the latter, I decided to put them together a list of greenwashed products (not quite) in time for Earth Day. I'll include links to each, when I have them, so you can go check them out yourself. Enjoy!

See the list after the jump...

  1. Brooks Green Silence recycled running shoes. This year Brooks has introduced one 'eco-friendly' shoe to their huge line of (not really green) products. Yes, it's an improvement that they're using post-consumer recycled product for some of the parts of this one shoe & that some of it is compostable. But what's really going to happen to this product when it's at the end of its life? Are people going to take the soles out & send them to an industrial composting facility? Not likely. They'll be tossed in a landfill, where it'll be buried in an anaerobic environment. To compost anything, you need air, heat & microbes which don't exist in the middle of a landfill. Verdict: one partially compostable shoe in a sea of other plastic products: I call greenwashing, Brooks.
  2. World Centric compostable toothbrush. Seems like a great idea--a toothbrush that you can compost after you're through with it. I'll also give them bonus points for providing a prepaid envelope that customers can use return the toothbrush so that World Centric can compost it properly in the required industrial facilities. However the bristles are not compostable, only the handle is, which means we're not really any further ahead of the replaceable head toothbrushes from years ago. Even if you compost the handle, you're still producing two to four of them per person per year. & again, just like the running shoes above--what percentage of these toothbrushes will actually make it to industrial composting facilities? World Centric appears to be a company totally focussed on making greener alternatives to disposable plastic products (cutlery, takeout containers, etc), so at least it's not just window dressing like the Brooks shoe.
  3. PlantBottle by Coca-Cola. It's a plastic drink bottle that's up to 30% plant-based material. Woo! 30%! This company makes billions off of encouraging people to buy unhealthy beverages in single-serving containers & now they want us to think they're sustainable? Really? This is just to sell product by adding a green leaf & recycling symbol to the label. But don't take my word for it, Coca-Cola explains on their FAQs for PlantBottle that "Another advantage is its ability to strengthen our brands’ connections to customers and consumers. People are responding very positively to the package in each market where it is introduced."
  4. Sustainably grown wine by The Crossings... from New Zealand. Okay, I love the idea of sustainably grown wine & I think there's a lot of waste & overuse of resources that the wine industry could improve upon, but how can you market something as sustainable when it's shipped halfway across the world? The CO2 produced by sending it all the way here from New Zealand kind of negates the benefits of growing it sustainably, doesn't it? Particularly when we have a vibrant wine industry right here in BC that produces lots of lovely LOCAL wines. 
Have you seen any greenwashed products lately that you'd add to this list?

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Why Monday lists? Reading the lovely Chloe's blog, Tea Swamp Park, I found an idea I had to 'steal': a list of all her Halloween costumes, with quite a few photos. She got the idea from Hula Seventy's List Project. I've decided to do the weekly lists for a year that Hula Seventy is doing.

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