Earth Day 2009, Corporations & the Green Bandwagon

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Earth Day 2009 certainly saw a great many companies and especially big corporations discover the green bandwagon. Judging from the proliferation of press releases and -statements they jumped onto it with gusto and abandon.

Press releases and press statements stated that this company or that was doing this or that green thing. But how much of this was and is real conviction that something must be done to “save the Planet” and how much is but a marketing gimmick; that must be the question.

It was literally a case of one company after the other announcing that they were backing this or that green initiative, that they were doing this as to energy savings for the Planet, and such, and press release after press release was issues in a hurry to coincide with Earth Day.

Having encountered so much of corporate greenwashing in recent months it is hard to know what to, actually, believe. One only needs to see claims of some companies as to this and that and then see their entire record on the environment to see that this is but a gimmick; Kimberly Clark is a prime example in that field.

In the last couple of years “green” agendas and manifests have been mushrooming as far as big corporations, especially, are concerned for they have become all too aware that customers and clients will go elsewhere if they do not “go green” and “do green”

One of those examples, for instance, is KBR , part of Haliburton Corp., donating trees to local parks in oder to offset the carbon footprint created by this or that project. That still does not make it a green company. Far from it. Especially seeing what they are involved in on other levels. I do not think I have to say more here.

Way too much of all of those things are but window dressing and most of it has no positive impact whatsoever on the companies' operations and is of very little benefit to the environment and our Planet.

The public really must become aware and savvy as to how much greenwashing there actually is and the media must too. Too many green writers accept things as given – and yet, I will mention the Eco Button again and the raving reviews it got all over the place, bar on GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW – and do not do a thorough job as to checking.

Ne part of a company may announce that they are doing this or the other green thing or that they are joining the Rainforest Alliance programs, as in the case of chocolate manufacturers, coffee and tea companies and such, and call that participating in fair trade. The question in my mind, even though the Rainforest Alliance is better than nothing, tis why hose companies, if they really want to do fair trade, do not go for accreditation by the Fairtrade Association.

The answer to that rhetorical question is quite simple. The Rainforest Alliance accreditation is much easier to achieve than that of the Fairtrade Association and also the Rainforest Alliance is more a body of industry itself rather than an outside one as in the Fairtrade Association.

Companies get away with more, I am afraid to say, under the Rainforest Alliance's schemes than they ever would under those of the Fairtrade Association and it is for that very reason that we see more companies doe the Rainforest Alliance thing than the Fairtrade Association one.

Another little “greenwash” again. And this is not the only one that is about where there corporations control how much goes to the workers and such, and the same kind of things are there, no doubt, as regards to “green” things.

Let the buyer beware, as the slogan goes.

© 2009