Cutting through the greenwash

Greenwash.jpgInteresting article on guardian.co.uk today to promote its new Greenwash column. The aim of the column is to reveal all the companies and policies that masquerade as eco-friendly by using an ingeniously contrived veil of pure BS.Cases in point: Virgin Trains, who claims to produce 76% less carbon dioxide than the peculiarly non-specific “cars and domestic flights”. Or Manchester airport, who strove to be completely carbon neutral – oh, apart from the flights coming in and out - although I’m sure they don’t do much damage. And my personal favourite, Fiji Water, whose example is best put in the words of the article’s author, Fred Pearce:“And what are we to make of Fiji Water's claims to be cutting the carbon footprint of its water by 25% and offsetting the rest? ‘Every drop is green,’ it says. But isn't the whole idea of bottling water on a remote South Pacific island and shipping it to your dinner table just a tiny bit barmy?”Which leads to the crux of the Guardian’s dilemma: “Can we shop our way to sustainability?... Or are our own consumer lifestyles, suffused in greenwash, the problem?”So is there any reay way to guarantee green-credentials - as a consumer or as a business-owner? Or is it all one big scam? What are we to do?From a buyer’s point of view, being more cynical about and challenging sellers about green claims is a small but positive step.And for manufacturers, or indeed anyone with recyclable waste, making sure it’s going to the right place should help too. Perhaps the most worrying point the article makes is about the recycling cowboys. These are the people who claim to recycle your old stuff but use very, very unsavoury processes to do it. Taking electrical goods off companies’ hands, for example, then getting all the bits stripped and dunked in acid by child labourers in third world countries.With new media attention focusing on false claims to green credibility, it might just pay to make sure your business is doing the right thing for real.(Image: ~~zorro~~ at flickr)

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