The Greenwash Brigade

2008’s greenwashes of the year

Jo Easton Dec 22, 2008

The Greenwash Brigade brings you our favorite greenwashes of 2008. Some good, some bad, some just plain funny — and in no particular order. (Vote for your favorite in the comments.)

  • Fiji Water’s new green campaign: Yes, shipping water in container ships from a pristine aquifer in paradise is somehow green. Really? (Heidi)

  • Big Three CEOs Drive Hybrids to DC: Taking a more economical and less carbon-intensive mode of travel on the second trip was an obvious choice, after the roasting they got for taking private jets. However, anyone who has done serious carbon footprint analysis on their travel has learned one thing — there’s not much difference in CO2 per mile, unless you up your passengers per vehicle. Using TerraPass, I did a quick round-trip calculation of a first-class ticket on Northwest from Detroit to DC and a 35mpg hybrid (slightly better than the Chevy Malibu Hybrid) and… the flight was 578 pounds and the car was 560. Fiscally and environmentally, it would have been better to fly a commercial carrier — even first class — than drive, because who wants to pay their CEO to spend two days driving to and from meetings? If they really wanted to show serious fiscal (or environmental) responsibility, they would have flown economy or carpooled with each other. The only reason I can think of for them to drive hybrids is to make the companies look green. (Janne)

  • Clean Coal? – The ultimate oxymoron. Have a low-fat glazed donut with your clean coal. Burning coal is the leading source of global warming emissions. Burning coal isn’t clean. Mountain top removal isn’t clean. Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a pipe dream at this point. And the 2008 presidential candidates fell for it. Do they seriously think we think they believe it? (Jim/Janne/Dennis)

  • Democrats and Republicans both have green conventions to cover for their lack of green policies. I don’t want to make the claim that the two parties have equally bad environmental policies, as a matter of fact I argued that one had acceptable policies (except for the coal thing) and the other had an astonishing lack of policies here. Neither party has policies that come anywhere close to equaling the efforts they put into greening their conventions. (Here’s a less-than-positive report from the Democratic convention, but hurricane Gustav and Sarah Palin seem to have drowned out any post-game news from the RNC, and all I could find was this analysis.) (Janne)

  • Shell gets in trouble for greenwashing — though in the UK, not the US. I’m thankful that somewhere, someone has first determined that lying to customers is not acceptable, and that someone with the authority to enforce that law has bothered. (Janne)

  • A Greener Apple? – Don’t eat that apple. Despite previous commitments to phase out the use of these chemicals by year’s end, it appears that the latest 3G iPhone’s ingredients include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFR). Sony Ericsson and Nokia have PVC & BFR-free product lines. Source here. (Jim)

  • GM’s “gas friendly to gas freecampaign: The company begging for money from American taxpayers spends far more on its SUVs than on investing in fuel-efficient vehicles. And like its brethren, it continues to spend millions opposing CAFE standards. How about “gas free to full of gas”? (Heidi)

  • Beyond Petroleum — BP recognized the public demand to move to a post-fossil-fuel economy. While most of their advertising message has been updated with images of wind turbines and solar, 97% of their investment is still unfortunately in oil and coal. (Jim/Dennis)

Think we missed any top greenwashes of 2008? Add ’em in the comments below. And don’t forget to tell us your #1 greenwash of the year — and why.

Happy New Year to all our readers!

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