Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gotta Be Greenwashing...

Sitting around the table yesterday at my meetings in NYC I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Something that distracted me.
All day meetings like this always include lunch brought in from a deli or restaurant, coffee cups, bottled water, sodas and so on. And, I hate to tell you how many of these major corporations don't even recycle their own bottles, glass and cans. Many of these are also trying to sell you their green messages and products, which unnerves me to no end. However, that's not what I am there for, so I might casually ask over lunch were I can recycle my glass bottle or where their paper recycling center is, hoping that my concern for the environment might rub off. Even a little.

Yesterday, while concentrating on the presentation at hand, I notice the woman sitting next to me has this bottle in her hand.

What? 100% recyclable? That isn't new! ALL water bottles are recyclable. Eco shape? Smaller label? Less plastic? Whatever. Ooooh, it's FLEXIBLE! That's it, I am *so* sold! Gimme that bottle! As I'm sure all water companies must have heard by now that 60 million empty water bottles are thrown away (read: not recycled) every freakin' day in the US. And, to make matters worse one single person uses 166 disposable plastic water bottles each year.

Is this greenwashing? I certainly felt like it was yesterday as I watched every single meeting attendee throw their water bottles, soda cans, cardboard deli trays and napkins straight into the trash can. I think it's better than nothing, but barely so. Is it deceptive to try to make the consumer feel good about buying this plastic bottle over the other plastic bottle? Isn't any plastic bottle in the landfill a bad plastic bottle? If you don't recycle it, how is this bottle that much better than any other?

Ahhh, if it smells like greenwashing, then I'm pretty sure each sip tastes like greenwashing. Or, BPAs, whatever comes first.

15 comments:

greeen sheeep said...

Amen, sister!

Anna said...

I so agree with you. I am getting sick of everyone jumping on the green bandwagon without any credibility.

Mindful Momma said...

sounds like they're trying to make people feel better about being wasteful.

Green Bean said...

Bleh! It is sooooo irritating, isn't it?

Rosa said...

Well, it *is* greener. But the company made the change to save money (plastic bottles cost money, you know) and they're selling the change because customers complained.

Flexible = marketing speak for "we know you complained these felt flimsy and cheap."

And, why the F*CK won't people recycle? I pick aluminum cans and plastic bottles out of the trash all the time - and the trash can is NEXT TO THE RECYCLING CANS.

ib mommy said...

First I'd just like to ask if you all took the corporate jet, jet pooled or flew commercial!

Isn't deceptive marketing the American way?? You know, free market, deregulation and all that crap?

Crunchy Chicken said...

Let me just point out that the water was shipped in from Poland. Which, I might add, has the purest water in the world. Right up there with Fiji (which has some of the most brackish water).

I'm going to start my own bottled water brand called Detroit. You can just feel the freshness.

Natalie W. said...

Thank you! Yesterday I listened to one of my coworkers boast about she was being green because she just bought a case of those bottles so she could bring one to work everyday. I sat there drinking out of my Klean Kanteen and told her that since she doesn't recycle, she really isn't green at all (as nicely as I possibly could, of course).

Lisa Sharp said...

I'm ordering a case haha.

This stuff drives me nuts.

Amaya 5 said...

I think your notice of this is so very important. I often get caught up in my own world and don't always realize that a large part outside of my "sphere of influence" or circle of friends, so to speak, do not think or act in public as I might like to. And for better or worse, i tend to keep corporate america outside my sphere of influence. So while some of those individuals at your meeting, or who even work for the company may have many good intentions, many probably recycle at home, some may grow their own food, others may "freeze their buns" for the winter, but when corporate America stiffles their public abilities (and yours), many people turn their head and don't want to raise their voice... Not today, maybe tomorrow. I still have work today they think. And they do, and so do you, and so do I. So we can't completely blame individuals (though they aren't innocent) for succombing to the greenwashing. But making corporate America start pulling their weight. Soooo... Ecoburban it sounds like you may need to contact HR at the company you visited and see how they can improve their relationship to make your meetings "more satisfactory". And your own company, does it do all it needs,... or is it at least on the right track. And we need to make sure that not only our homes and our personal lives are greened, but so are our places of work, our places of study, and our places of worship.
So while it's important to get upset, it's also important to take tactful action. (But don't lose your job in the process. :) )

Condo Blues said...

I think that stating the obvious as a form of misleading advertising is the American way. For example, I'm shopping with my husband in the grocery store. We want to by pretzels as a snack and grab a bag that has "Now cholesterol (sp.) free!" to which I ask my husband (the household food and labeling guru)"cholesterol is even normally in pretzels is it?" I ask him. His answer,"nope."

Same goes with the water bottle. *sigh*

Mon @ Global Homestead said...

Greenwashing for sure.

Economics will always be in the driver's seat.

That's why bloggers like us need to be around to spread the word of, above all, being aware.

JGH said...

You are so right - this "green" bottle is really irritating. It's not like you can put it in the dishwasher and re-use it! I guess you can't hope for a water company to make a reusable water bottle, but I doubt I'd be the only one who would buy more of them if they were a little sturdier.

Levinson Axelrod said...

Thanks for exposing this issue.

Mary @ Green Global Travel said...

This is a great post! Plastic water bottles are definitely not eco-friendly. It is really important to think about using one brand who seems to be more eco-friendly than the other to see if it is actually beneficial to the environment.