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Tagged with greenwashing

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How EPA helps big corporations greenwash

Walmart may have hybrid trucks, but its efforts at going green are a drop in the bucket considering the company's size. (Photo by Walmart Stores.)

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project.

While I generally have nothing but praise for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), its Green Power Partnership program falls short of the agency’s usual standard. In particular, the program, by providing media recognition for participating companies who procure renewable energy, inflates the activities of large companies at the expense of businesses whose clean energy transformation is much more meaningful.

Take Walmart, who appears at No. 3 in the EPA’s Green Power Partner rankings with an annual procurement of 872 million kilowatt-hours (enough to power approximately 87,000 homes per year). The EPA inaccurately credits the super-retailer with getting 28 percent of its electricity from green power, because the partnership program allows Walmart to cherry-pick its only two regional divisions that have made any strides on green energy (California and Texas).

Nationwide, Walmart gets less than 2 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources.

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Four ways enviros can keep Walmart in the hot seat

Hot-looking chair

This post concludes the "Walmart's Greenwash" series. To check out the rest of the series, follow the links at right, or start with the introduction.

Walmart's sustainability campaign is not your typical corporate greenwash. It is more complex and clever than that. It has enough substance mixed in with the spin to draw you in. It's easy to get swept up in the big numbers Walmart can roll out -- like the 30 tons of plastic hangers it recycles every month -- and to be charmed by the very fact of this giant company, with its hard-nosed corporate culture, using a word like "sustainability."

More than a few environmentalists have been won over. With their endorsements and the flood of positive press that seems to follow each of Walmart's green announcements, the company has managed to turn around flagging poll numbers, shift its labor practices out of the limelight, and, most crucially, crank up its expansion machine.

The environmental consequences of Walmart's ongoing growth far outweigh the modest reductions in resource use that the company has made.

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Would you wear fish-skin shoes? Manolo Blahnik thinks you would

Designer Manolo Blahnik, who makes wildly expensive footwear, is launching a line of shoes made with sustainable or recycled material, like "raffia, cork and tilapia skins." Ooh, this is a good idea! What about tin foil? What about banana skins? What about Kleenex boxes? They are already practically shoes! In all seriousness, it's kind of cool (and kind of greenwashy) to incorporate discarded material into your luxury goods. Bring the idea of reuse to the 1 percent, you know? But I can't honestly believe status-conscious Manolo Blahnik customers would wear tilapia shoes. Tilapia is so cheap! Have you no shoes …

Read more: Living

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ConAgra sued over 'natural' GMO cooking oils

Cross-posted from Food Safety News. If you use Wesson brand cooking oils, you may be able to join a class-action lawsuit against food giant ConAgra for deceptively marketing the products as natural. These days it's hard to walk down a supermarket aisle without bumping into a food product that claims to be "all-natural." If you've ever wondered how even some junk food products can claim this moniker (witness: Cheetos Natural Puff White Cheddar Cheese Flavored Snacks -- doesn't that sound like it came straight from your garden?), the answer is simple, if illogical: The Food and Drug Administration has not …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Companies claim concern for climate, but sponsor ALEC

Photo: divinenephronCross-posted from ThinkProgress Green. The fight against global warming pollution requires the investment of everyone, including the world's multinational corporate giants. Many companies have taken official stances on climate pollution, pledging to reduce their greenhouse footprint in order to reduce the threat of a destabilized climate. However, a number of these same companies are sponsoring toxic, far-right denial of climate science. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushes an extremist denier agenda throughout the United States, funded in secret by corporations. ThinkProgress has acquired a list of the sponsors of ALEC's 2011 annual meeting, held last week in New …

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Coke, BPA, and the limits of ‘green capitalism’

Don't drink the Coca-Cola Kool-AidPhoto: Oleg Sklyanchuk"Coca-Cola goes green," announced a 2010 Forbes article. Indeed, the beverages giant maintains partnerships with Big Green groups like Conservation International and World Wildlife Fund. It recently even completed its takeover of Honest Tea, an organic bottled-tea company. It would clearly like to be seen as a paragon of "green capitalism" -- the idea that doing good and doing well go hand in hand. Let's put aside questions over what can possibly be "green" about a business model geared to sucking in huge amounts of drinking water, blasting it with what are probably toxic …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Rupert Murdoch is totally against the global warming he told you not to believe in

It's probably not the first time Rupert Murdoch has been on a list with Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. Turns out that media mogul/plutocrat Murdoch's company, News Corporation, is deeply and explicitly committed to reducing its carbon footprint, combating global warming, and encouraging its audiences to do the same. You know, except for the 63 million people who get their information from its noisiest product, Fox News. Murdoch's stated position is that climate change is serious, and that the company's energy initiative is a good start but public outreach is critical: "We can set an example, and we can reach …

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GREENWASHING MACHINE

'Bio-based': organic’s sketchy new cousin

PETA's gonna love it.Original photo: dovima_is_devine_II Thanks to the USDA and the 2002 farm bill, products made from least a quarter "renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials" can get a special "bio-based" label. Supposedly it's like the organic or Energy Star labels, but for your glass cleaner and foamy hand soap made from renewable ingredients. The USDA's press release says the bio-based label will help make green shopping decisions easier. Oh really, USDA? More like make greenwashing and confusion easier. For one, not only could products with genetically modified ingredients get the label, but there'd be no mention of …

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NOT-SO-WACKY TOBACKY

Organic cigarettes on the rise, still bad for you

Different smokes.Photo: maaco A small but growing number of tobacco farmers are going organic, says The Daily Green, giving smokers everywhere a potential out from New Year's resolutions. (They're healthy, y'alls! Great with a vodka-and-Drano! Well, OK, they have fewer chemicals and slightly less nicotine, but they're still just "the ecologically responsible way to kill yourself and your loved ones," to quote Flickr user ATIS547.) The makers of American Spirit's "natural" smokes saw sales increase 10 percent a year for the last decade. Damn hipsters. Organic cigarettes may not be much easier on your body, but they're easier on farmers …

Read more: Living

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'We’re going to make pretending to care the new caring', video

Anatomy of a greenwash [VIDEO]

The good folks at Funny or Die have new video skewering Chevron's cynical "We agree" ad campaign. The comedy site's previous "Chevron thinks we're stupid" video was part of a broader comedy offensive against the oil giant. The new vid gives us a behind-the-scenes pitch from an ad agency. Advertising executive: "We're going to make pretending to care the new caring." Chevron executive: "Wait, wait, I think I get it. You can agree with someone on something without having to do anything about it." Anatomy of a Greenwash from Paul Scheer