Guilty of Greenwashing

Guilty of Greenwashing

I grew up with the notion that wearing or producing real fur was immoral. As a child, watching 101 Dalmatians, I learned to hate Cruella De Vil for trying to kill those cute little puppies for their skin. I thought it was cruel, immoral, and it should be against the law!

Today, it technically isn’t, but real fur isn’t exactly looked upon favorably. Campaigns by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have worked hard showing the negative side of fur farming and have been successful in turning people off of fur or certain woolen garments.

For example, the popular UGG boots are made from the skin and wool of Australian sheep (Mikkelson). Many have thought it was sheared wool from sheep attached to a ground fabric of synthetic material. PETA has posted gruesome, viral videos of the process in which people kill the sheep. Other popular videos from PETA include Chinese fur-farmers beating the animals and skinning them alive, their skinless exposed bodies alive for sometimes five to ten minutes before their heart finally gives out (PETA, The Chinese Fur Industry).

Despite all this, many organizations invested in fur farming have now been working hard to promote fur in fashion. Fur Europe, being one of them, is an organization created to provide information about European fur farming and endorse the European Fur Breeder’s Association. They state that fur farming and the use of fur in fashion is not unethical as long as the animals are given a good life throughout the time they’re alive and are killed in humane ways. They state many arguments that it is actually good for the environment in the sense that the garments can last 20-30 years, be reused and still also have the ability to decompose as opposed to faux fur (Europe).

Faux fur is made of petroleum-based synthetics such as polyester or acrylic. It has been said that an “estimated gallon of oil [is] used in every three jackets” (McCutcheon). As everyone knows, plastics and other synthetic materials do not break down and can remain in landfills for hundreds of years. Some sources indicate it can take 500-1,000 years for a simple plastic bag to decompose fully. And even so, they might not even fully decompose until nothing remains of it. Instead, what may remain are “microscopic granules” (Lapidos). If this is the case for a thin, flimsy plastic bag, how much worse could it be for a synthetic fur or pleather jacket?

One concept some fur-lovers are trying to utilize for guilt-free fur use are recycled fur (World). These would be the old fur jackets that have been around for decades but are no longer used because they are out of style. As for me, reusing is the best way to be sustainable in our environment. There is already enough junk created on our Earth. Why make more new things when we can just reuse what we already have? The damage has already been made with these real fur jackets and old fur pelts. There is no way to bring the animal back alive. In that case, why not change the way it’s being used and design it into something new and fashionable that people will want to use now a days. It can be labeled “recycled fur” and show it is more sustainable than using petroleum-based synthetic fibers that will basically never decompose. It is also less tricky than the whole moral issue of raising animals in potential inhumane ways just for the use of their fur. Despite both sides of faux fur or real fur trying to argue that their side is more eco-friendly, really, the best way to wear fur is recycled fur!

AUDAS_09Handbag made of recycled fur found at Audas

A trend seen are bags made of actual packaging material such as soda cans, bags of chips, or drink pouches that can’t be recycled. The term for this type of reuse is “upcycling”. A website called “The Ultimate Green Store” sells products just like these, and many other organic or eco-friendly consumer items including clothing (Store). At first thought, you would never think there are any negative sides to doing something like this. These companies are taking trash that would otherwise end up in landfills because they cannot be recycled and repurposing them into something trendy that people will want to use. A lot of the packaging used for these bags are disposable items that are used once to provide two ounces of candy or chips to a consumer and then are intended to be thrown away. They utilize a whole lot of packaging to transport the goods from the manufacturer to the consumer just so that they could be utilized for five minutes while the consumer is snacking. The amount of resources used does not equal the amount of value that item gives in the end!

The problem with this idea is that they are essentially enabling these companies that create these unrecyclable bags or containers that are used for such a short amount of time for its intended purpose. Not every candy wrapper or chip bag ends up in the hands of the companies that repurpose these items. 95-97% ends up not being repurposed (O’Connor). What really needs to happen are that manufacturers come up with a better way to package their products so that less waste is created. Do people really need to throw another 7.5 fl oz mini soda can away every time they drink or should they just buy a 2 liter bottle and get more soda while creating less waste? Products need to be provided in larger quantities so as to not create more waste; which occurs by providing the same amount or less of product but creating more waste in the end by selling in smaller packages each.

Some people are against the use of plastic in any way, shape or form. Author Beth Terry wrote a book titled Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. She began making the effort to not use plastic after seeing a photo of a dead bird and the contents left behind from its stomach: a toothbrush, bottle caps, cigarette lighters, and many more miscellaneous plastic trinkets (Terry). An article on five products from companies guilty of greenwashing states the following on the issue:

“The companies – such as Kraft Foods and Frito-Lay – whose products are diverted from landfill underwrite the costs of collecting and processing them into new products. In return, these manufacturers not only get green cred, they also receive additional marketing thanks to their logo-packed packaging being turning into everything from backpacks to belts. What these manufacturers do not receive with this model, however, is a strong incentive to stop making non-recyclable packaging in the first place (O’Connor).”

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Backpack made of recycled juice pouches found at The Ultimate Green Store

If plastic were never used, you would never have to create juice pouch schoolbags in the first place or worse have our descendants find it in 500 years because it never decomposed after all that time. Companies should strive to use paper-based packaging or bio-degradable materials. So, although The Ultimate Green Store is trying to help by selling items that have been repurposed, it’s doing nothing about the actual process of making plastic or encouraging manufacturers to not use plastic for disposable means.

Another product that attempts to help but not really is Sunlight’s Green Clean laundry detergent, used to clean our fashion clothing so we can reuse them. It sports a typical “green” looking bottle that invokes thoughts of sustainability and eco-friendliness in shoppers. Apparently, other types of detergent are not able to decompose due to the fact they are typically made of petroleum based ingredients (Chemeng). This one in particular states in an ad that it uses plant-based materials and can break down in 28 days under specific circumstances. The downside to it is that “once water is eliminated, 38 percent of the product is made of petro-chemicals” (News).

Sunlight Green Clean

Unfortunately, this still isn’t a complete solution to our environmental issues. It’s better than nothing but the best way to clean your clothes is using basic, non-toxic ingredients found in the supermarket such as fragrance free bar soap, Borax, washing soda, baking soda, or glycerin (Tipnut). If you would like to add fragrance, you can add organic essential oils. Recipes can be easily searched online and although it requires extra time in making it, it is much safer for you and your local water municipalities. Sunlight Green Clean is a product for people not exactly ready to switch over to living a different lifestyle. It’s for people who want to keep living the same way but are willing to make minor tweaks and adjustments that are easy to do and don’t require any additional effort. So, at the end of the day, this product is “green-ish” and not entirely safe for the environment.

All of these products may have the greatest intentions but sometimes fail at providing the proper solution. Corporations are taking action to do something but to really make an impact, we as a society need to try harder. The more time we take to create great solutions, the more we sacrifice the land we live on. Companies are at least trying. These products however, are all guilty of greenwashing.

Published July 16, 2016

References

Chemeng, Curious. “Greenwashing and CBC #9: Sunlight Green Clean Laundry Detergent.” 2016. Curious Chemeng Blogspot. http://curiouschemeng.blogspot.com/2012/09/greenwashing-and-cbc-9-sunlight-green.html. 16 07 2016.

Europe, Fur. “Fashion & Design.” 2016. Fur Europe. http://www.fureurope.eu/fur-society/fashion-design/. 14 07 2016.

Lapidos, Juliet. “Will My Plastic Bag Still Be Here in 2507?” 2016. Slate. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/06/will_my_plastic_bag_still_be_here_in_2507.htm. 14 07 2016.

McCutcheon, Jody. “Is Fur Eco Friendly? We Look At Both Sides.” 2016. Eluxe Magazine. http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/is-fur-eco-friendly/. 14 07 2016.

Mikkelson, David. “The Uggly Truth: Ugg Boots Are Made From Sheepskin?” 18 11 2013. Snopes.com: Rumor Has It. http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/uggs.asp. 14 07 2016.

News, CBC. “10 Worst Household Products for Greenwashing.” 14 09 2012. CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/10-worst-household-products-for-greenwashing-1.1200620. 16 07 2016.

O’Connor, Mary Catherine. “Five Sustainable Boondoggles: Greenwashing All the Way to the Bank.” 25 08 2014. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/aug/25/5-sustainability-greenwash-products-ecofriendly-boondoggles-design. 14 07 2016.

PETA. PETA. n.d. PETA.ORG. 14 07 2016.

—. “The Chinese Fur Industry.” 2016. PETA. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/fur/chinese-fur-industry/. 14 07 2016.

Store, The Ultimate Green. The Ultimate Green Store. 2016. http://www.theultimategreenstore.com/p-1164-terracycle-honest-kids-upcycled-backpack.aspx. 16 07 2016.

Terry, Beth. “About Me.” 2016. My Plastic Free Life. http://myplasticfreelife.com/about-me/. 14 07 2016.

Tipnut. “10 Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent Recipes.” 04 01 2007. Tipnut. http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/. 16 07 2016.

World, Eco Fashion. “A Furry Issue.” 25 09 2008. Eco Fashion World . http://www.ecofashionworld.com/Ethical-Hotwire/A-FURRY-ISSUE.html. 14 07 2016.

 

There’s a Platinum Rule?

There’s a Platinum Rule?

So this is my first attempt at writing my first blog entry. Kind of nervous… I had thought about doing a vlog or Video Log (apparently blog comes from Web Log) but even worse than my mind going blank for few seconds while trying to fill up this white, electronic sheet is making a video and stuttering or forgetting what you were going to say or blushing and then having to spend more time editing the video than making the video in the first place. Plus, my laptop is a slow glitchy, Windows one versus a Mac and I’m not a wiz at video editing. I’m so worried about creating clever sentences and writing to “captivate and keep” the reader to impress others but hey, I’m really doing this for me and this is not a popularity contest. I’ve always hated those, with a strong passion. I’ve always hated pride, bragging and conceitedness. You want me to not like you? Be the most prideful, conceited, gas headed person you can be. Speaking about not liking someone, let’s talk about bullying today.

It’s been on my mind a lot. I’ve been going thru snippets of memories in my head of all the times I’ve been bullied as a young girl, and sadly, even as an adult. You think bullying leaves when you turn eighteen? Nope. It never does. It stays. Why? Because we’re humans. Because as long as there is all the sin that is so abundant on poor mother earth, there will always be bullies. I remember feeling puzzled when I was in second grade as my teacher let us know that gossiping continues even into adult lives, even in the workplace. Perhaps she was going through that at the moment and it’s what led her to say it. But I always associated bullying with something that happened in schools or buses and with children only. I almost didn’t believe her.

But now I do. As a matter of a fact <<<doesn’t sound right when you write in properly so >>> As a matta’ fact, the clues have always been there. When you watch movies or tv shows with adults, there’s always at least one character that doesn’t like the other and they both give each other a hard time. Had they been children, you would consider it bullying but as an adult, oh no it’s ridiculous to call it that. You seem childish and petty for doing so. But the truth is, that’s exactly what it is!! We just don’t want to call it that because it makes us feel ashamed! We adults talk about bullying amongst children and watch documentaries of kids committing suicide and point a finger at it and say how bad it is, not realizing WE do it too. To call a child a bully makes them appear so bad they are worthy of being left in jail to rot for all eternity but we won’t call an adult a bully. We see just how bad it is when children get bullied that we don’t want to be titled that ourselves. Well newsflash, adults can be bullies too.

You think a girl who has been a bully all her life—-gossiping about the geeky girl, sneering at her, snickering when she walks by, pointing fingers, whispering and then looking towards her way, I can go on and on—-is going to change all of a sudden when she turns 18? No, unless they got the rude awakening they so deserve and need, they are going to continue being who they’ve been all along. A bully.

I really want to know what goes through their hearts and minds that lead them to treat others so poorly. I’ve known a few that are not bullies towards me but if I were to ask them that they would say, “I AM NOT A BULLY!!!!!” Because, like I said, no one wants to be called a bully. I give sympathy towards some I know because I know their past and what they’ve gone through. You might say, they have a reason for being so bitter and angry and mean towards others. But there is no excusing to treating others like trash just because you feel like trash. If you give yourself the opportunity to treat someone kindly, you might just see that you feel good too. Some tips I wish everyone knew and would follow:

  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself.
  • Treat em’ how they want to be treated.
  • Just because you don’t like someone, doesn’t mean you have to disrespect them.

If you’re an adult, oh wait let me change that > If you’re wise and mature, you can separate the fact that you don’t like someone with the way you treat them. If you don’t like that person, do you need to let them know every second or every opportunity you get? No, just ignore them. Go about you way. Do your business. You don’t need all that extra drama added to it like “Hey! I don’t like you! I know I’ve let you know that a thousand times today but I’m gonna let you know one more time, k’?!”

If you’re at school and you know you are all there to get an education (despite what some teenagers insist), than get your education and don’t be worrying about what the next person is doing like “oh ew, look what she came wearing today”. No, worry about what you are wearing! I wonder what treating others badly gets you? Do you sleep better at night? Does it make you feel good after you do it? I mean, it looks like hard work being so mean to people. But nah, it’s not hard for bullies. It’s actually hard for them to tame themselves because their number one impulse is to open their mouths and say/do something stupid. I pity you. Because maybe you want to stop, but you can’t. Maybe you need to stop at certain times like when you’re standing in front of someone you know you can’t do that around and your insides are bubbling up because you want to do something so bad. Hhmm… maybe it’s an addiction. No, it’s not. People can change. We are malleable. There is no excuse.

You might have cocked your head when I said “treat em how they want to be treated”. That might strike you as strange. All our lives we’ve heard the golden rule:

ghy

This doesn’t mean you’re gonna go bonking people on the head because you like getting bonked on the head but basically, if you don’t like people telling you to shut up, don’t tell others to shut up. If you don’t like people canceling on you at the last minute, don’t cancel on others at the last minute. If you don’t like people calling you at 4am, don’t call others at 4am. Get it? Now, these examples don’t all have to do with bullying but I think you get the point.

There’s a flaw with the golden rule. If you like certain things but the other person does not like certain things, you can’t expect to treat them the way you would like yourself be treated and them be ok with it. Because maybe you don’t know that your friend doesn’t like jokes aimed at them, but you find it funny when people do it with you. They tell you,

  • hey, I don’t like that
  • why not? It’s funny J
  • no it’s not, I don’t like it.

DON’T say:

  • whatever, I don’t care. HAHAHA your mom’s a stripper *everyone laughs

DO say:

  • my bad

And then don’t do it again! Ta daaaa.

That’s why we have the Silver or Platinum rule.

khjkh

You may be ok with playing rough and having people poke you excessively with pencils, but they are not. So respect them. Don’t poke other people just because you like getting poked. Poke yourself.

Last but not least, words are hurtful. And their scars take years and are harder to heal because you can’t see them with your physical eye. Sometimes you can’t know a persona has emotional damage until something extreme causes it to come up to the surface. You have to be very observant to notice it. Once you let a wound go untreated, it can fester and grow pus and bleed and become so far gone it’s gonna take a whole lot of counseling to get past it. These invisible wounds are caused by verbal abuse or sometimes actions that require no words. Like when a dad promises his son he’s gonna pick him up on Sunday for ice cream and then doesn’t show. He doesn’t call before or after. Just leaves him feeling completely and hopelessly abandoned. If you’re having a hard time sympathizing, imagine if it was a guy or girl you liked and they said they would pick you up Friday for a movie, and you sit ready by the door waiting all night until finally its 1am and you say “they’re not coming…”. You’re going to feel like crap afterwards.

Has anyone ever insulted you or called you a name? It hurt didn’t it? And maybe you didn’t get over it right away. You kept thinking about it for days. You couldn’t get it off your mind. Then eventually you forgot about it or decided you weren’t going to think about it anymore but the pain was tucked away deep into the back shelves of your heart. But later, it somehow surfaces at the wrong time or a stranger said something similar to you on the wrong day and you blow up on them as if releasing all the anger you’ve had toward that first offender onto this perfect stranger. Come on. Stop acting like words don’t hurt. I remember hurtful words spoken to me by my parents more than all the spankings they’ve given me. When I think about their spankings, I can’t feel the burn on my leg anymore but I can feel my heart sinking when I think of what they said to me. And then I feel sad on an otherwise perfectly happy day because of what was said to me years ago. Words can’t be erased such as on this word processor I’m using. They are forever etched into our brains. This is why we have to be careful with what we say. Choose your words carefully!

My point is, be respectful to others. Learn to separate not liking someone with the way you treat them. You don’t have to like your neighbor, but you do have to respect them. Your actions can have a great effect on people. Your words could be the last words someone hears before they decide to take their lives. Your actions could be the trigger that lead someone to finally have a nervous breakdown or a psychotic outbreak. Sometimes, a simple and genuinely kind “Hello!” can brighten someone’s day and even save their life.

I listened to a testimony by a woman I know where she felt like the Holy Spirit was telling her “Say hello to him”, towards a boy that no one liked in their high school. She really wanted to, but felt too shy to do so. Maybe she doubted whether God was really telling her to say something, anything kind, to that boy. That night he took his life and she lives in guilt even as an adult wondering if she could have saved him by simply saying “God bless you” or “Jesus loves you” or simply, “How’re you doing?” Contrary to our beliefs, we are actually important in this world. Our simple everyday actions have an impact on people’s lives even if you’re doing something as simple as checking out a customer at a register. We leave a stamp on each person we encounter, no matter how insignificant the interaction may have seemed. Have you ever wondered about a complete stranger you encountered after the day is over? “Man, that girl who checked me out at the supermarket was so grumpy today, I wonder what her problem was…” or “Gosh, that elderly woman was so inspiring just marching along that trail getting her fitness. Wish I could be like her…” We have no idea who these people are and we probably might never see them again but they left a stamp on us, an experience, a moment, something to think about. Strive to leave invisible smiley face stamps on people’s minds. They’re going to remember you that night when they lay to rest and rewind the entire day on their mental movie screen. Be the cause for someone’s joy, satisfaction, inspiration, or positive change!!