The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for February, 2008

Marks And Spencer : The Great Plastic Bag Diversion

Posted by keith on 29th February 2008

Plan A Cos Plan B Is Scary

If you are one of the most successful retailers in an economically rich country then, when you say you are going to become environmentally friendly, that can only really mean one thing: going out of business. Retailers won’t admit that, of course, which is why they insist that “going green” is just a case of lowering their environmental impact, but being able to carry on selling loads of unnecessary products to people who have been brainwashed into thinking they need them by the adverts those same retailers keep running in the media.

Marks and Spencer, a very large and very well thought of UK retailer, is doing more than most, admittedly. In January 2007 they launched Plan A, the inference being that there was “no Plan B”. Plan A, according to M&S, is doing everything necessary to protect the planet, because we only have one. Plan A is also about preventing Plan B from becoming necessary because, although they won’t admit it, Plan B is commercial suicide. Plan B is admitting we don’t need to go shopping.

This week — with huge fanfare – M&S promised to massively reduce their customers’ use of plastic bags. By giving away 280 million less bags a year (a 70% reduction), through charging for them, M&S would save 3,400 tonnes of plastic from being produced. I then had a little search and found this in an M&S business report:

Of the 100,000 tonnes of packaging we use a year, some 79,000 tonnes relates to food packaging.

Hang on! If plastic bags only account 4,800 tonnes of plastic at M&S, then that is only 5% of the packaging that they produce. So why are M&S making such a big deal about plastic bags?

The reason is that the public have been made to think that they can really make a big difference to their environmental footprint by not using plastic bags. This costs the retailers nothing, in fact they save money, and can even make a little on the side by getting customers to pay for reusable advertisements bags.

In the meantime, the public keep shopping: the goods keep getting made, transported and thrown away, and the economy keeps rolling on, using up more and more resources as it goes.

M&S Chief Executive, Stuart Rose is jubilant

We’ve made good progress on Plan A. We’ve a lot more to do, but we remain committed to delivering the goals we’ve set. More and more of our employees and suppliers see Plan A as a way of helping us all innovate and do things differently. For example, we originally began working with our suppliers to open three ‘eco’ factories. Now we have plans for several more, including our first in China.

Oh yes! Factories in China. That’s most definitely in the spirit of Plan A.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

Greenpeace : Business As Usual

Posted by keith on 27th February 2008

Greenpeace Cities OK

The Unsuitablog having a go at Greenpeace? That can’t be right, can it?

Yes it can. Since its formation in 1971, Greenpeace have been right at the heart of the modern environmental campaigning movement: amongst their many victories have been putting the protection of whales on a global footing…

Well, that’s all I can think of. I admit to having considerable empathy with the fearless anti-logging campaigners in South America, and the work of some of their more underground activists who rarely get much credit in the PR-ridden world that has become “Nu-Green Campaigning”, but I have more than a little antagonism for the people running the campaigns in the rich countries which contain most of Greenpeace’s member base.

The list of crimes is too many to go into detail here: needless to say, numerous battles have been lost due to their recent practice of kow-towing to the consumer culture. In a nutshell, there is no-one in a position of power at Greenpeace who is prepared to say, “This civilisation sucks, we should be bringing it down.” Let’s face it – the world is run by wealthy individuals in government and especially in business who are driving us down the road to self-annihilation.

What do Greenpeace do in the UK? Spend most of their time pushing for people to have solar panels and wind-turbines in their towns. Everything will be fine if we just take our energy from renewables, and ignore those nasty people who keep selling us stuff; brainwashing us into thinking this is the life; making laws to control us according to the wishes of corporations; pretending they can be trusted to save the planet when they just want to squeeze every last drop of resource out of it.

Here’s the spiel from the UK web site:

EfficienCity is a virtual town, but pioneering, real world communities around the UK are using similar systems. As a result, they’re enjoying lower greenhouse gas emissions, a more secure energy supply, cheaper electricity and heating bills and a whole new attitude towards energy.”

“While our government promotes the fallacy that we need coal and nuclear to keep the lights on, innovative councils, businesses and individuals are taking the leap into a cleaner, greener future with decentralised energy.”

Cheaper electricity! Innovative councils and businesses! Talk about being in hock to the market economy. For goodness sake, Greenpeace, do you really not have a clue why this planet is being killed?

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | 1 Comment »

How To Find Company E-mail Addresses

Posted by keith on 25th February 2008

email big boss

So, you are really pissed off with a company and want to tell them what you think of them, what they should do and what you are going to do if they don’t. You go to their web site, click on the “Contact Us” link and find a form that they have so kindly provided – you don’t even have to open your mail client.

WAIT! Do not fill in that form!

The message will end up with all of the other complaints and comments, in some dump-bin ready for an administrator or more likely a computer to send a standard reply. The message you sent will never be seen by anyone with any influence. Consequently, the chances of anything happening as a result of your message are just about zero. This is intentional; companies genuinely don’t want the public to know individuals’ e-mail addresses, because those individuals are human beings.

I’m not saying that e-mails in themselves make any significant difference: after all, a business exists to make money and, in most cases, environmental protection, socal welfare and human rights are off their radar. But – and it’s a big but – if enough messages are sent to a number of individuals then maybe, just maybe, those individual, rather than the monolithic corporate machine, will get the right idea. The key is getting your message to the right individuals.

Obviously there is no point filling in the form. Here’s what you do:

1) Find out the name of the person you want to receive the message. Choose the Chief Executive / President, head of the relevant section or department, and a few other random people. You can find these names on the company’s web site.

2) Go to the web site http://www.emailnamefinder.com/ and search for the company. If you find that company then use suggested format.

3) If you can’t find the company on EMail Name Finder, then do a Google search for <company web name> contact email, (e.g. “barclays.co.uk” contact email) and look for a human name, followed by “@<company web name>. It doesn’t matter who is on the e-mail, that will probably be the standard format. Below is the Barclays example – it has found a person called Kathy Brown, so the standard format is <firstname.lastname>@barclays.co.uk. It has also found the barclays.com format too!

Barclays Search

4) Compose your e-mail using the format you have found. Make sure the e-mail addresses are in the To: box, not the Bcc: box as you might think.

5) If you have found a format that is not on Email Name Finder then send your discovery to them at emailnamefinder@gmail.com

It’s always better to send messages to multiple people in the same company for two reasons:

1) Your e-mail has a far better chance of being read.

2) It is impossible for one recipient to pretend that they didn’t receive the e-mail. The more embarrassing and hard-hitting your message, the more chance that one or more of the recipients will feel uneasy, especially in the presence of the other recipients. Fear is what drives companies to change.

Plus, having a go at the CEO or President in the sight of his or her underlings is great fun!

Posted in Advice, Revenge | 3 Comments »

Beijing 2008 : Sponsors Cashing In On Oppression Olympics

Posted by keith on 22nd February 2008

China Coke

Some more reportage from those brilliant people at www.unmadeinchina.org. This time its the sponsors they are having a go at. In a way it’s difficult to accuse a company as crassly destructive as Coca Cola or BHPBilliton of hypocrisy in sponsoring the Oppression Olympics (I think that’s what I’ll call them from now on), but as all of the non-Chinese companies purport to be ethical in some way, then it is vital that their names are made public.

If you click on the names you will be able to send a mail to them.

Worldwide (Permanent) Olympic Partners*: 

Coca Cola (j.brock@cokecce.com)
Atos Origin (more-info@atosorigin.com)
General Electric (jeffery.immelt@ge.com)
Johnson & Johnson (wweldon@jnj.com)
Kodak (antonio.perez@kodak.com)
IBM (trading as Lenovo) (ameliow@us.lenovo.com)
Manulife (dominic_d’alessandro@manulife.com)
McDonalds (james.skinner@mcd.com)
Omega Watches (nicolas.hayek@swatchgroup.com)
Panasonic (taylorj@us.panasonic.com)
Samsung (klee@sta.samsung.com)
Visa (hmorris@visa.com)

(* These companies are able to influence Olympic policy)

Non-Chinese Beijing 2008 Partners:

Volkswagen
Adidas

Sponsors:

UPS
Haier
Budweiser
BHPBilliton

Exclusive Suppliers:

UPS
Snickers
Technogym
Staples
Aggreko
Schenker

(Full lists at http://en.beijing2008.cn/bocog/sponsors/sponsors/)


As for every Olympic game, the Beijing 2008 sponsorship is organized in tiers:

  • The TOP sponsors (who usually sponsor more than one edition of the Games)
  • The Sponsors
  • The Suppliers (both exclusive-and not).

How many are there? As Mr. Gerhard Heiberg, Chairman of the Marketing Commission of the International Olympic Committee proudly states “since the marketing program for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was launched on September 1, 2003, a total of 54 enterprises have become Games partners, sponsors and suppliers.”

Is “54 enterprises” a big number? In other words: what is this “marketing program” really worth, at the economic level?

Official numbers are not yet available, but we can take a look at http://www.olympic.org/uk/organisation/facts/revenue/index_uk.asp the official result of the previous 4-year period (2001-2004). We learn that “Olympic Movement generated a total of more than $4,000 million USD in revenue during the most recent Olympic quadrennium.”

That’s more than 4 billion dollars revenue for marketing. That is, minimal costs to be subtracted.

That was in the far 200-2004, now we are talking of Beijing 2008, “the Games which the world has never seen before” (again, quotes from Mr. Heiberg).

Quite a lot of money, isn’t it? Imagine the campaign… But, wait, there’s not that much advertising of the Olympics (compared to the marketing budget)… Why is that? Once again, the very same Mr. Heiberg comes to our aid: “We are aware that over-commercialization is detrimental to the Olympic Movement and all our sponsors, our partners understand it and accept it”.

Yes, Mr. Heiberg, let’s not make it evident what the Olympics really are, it could be detrimental…

Nice business strategy! What kind of “Olympic spirit” is that?

(from http://www.unmadeinchina.org/contStd.asp?lang=en&idPag=63)

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 6 Comments »

Beijing 2008 : The Olympics Of Shame

Posted by keith on 20th February 2008

Boycott Olympics 2008

With reports that athletes from Western countries are being explicitly told NOT to talk to the media of their concerns about being a national representative in a deeply oppressive country, I have no doubt that the 2008 Olympics is turning into a disgraceful sham of the Olympic ideal which the IOC should be ashamed of ever letting happen in the first place. There is little more to add to the excellent report below, except for add my thanks for the information, and saluting the work of the people behind www.unmadeinchina.org.

Why should we be happy and complacent about the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Now, just as in 1936 at the Berlin Olympics in Germany, nobody minds participating in such an important international event. The countries that took part in that event later regretted the mistake they had made – in the years which followed the Games, a war took place which caused over 50 million deaths: World War II.

Let’s take a look back.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1990. The Cold War was over. The Soviet Union “fell apart.” The Western democracies had virtually won the ideological challenge against the communist regimes, whose champion was the USSR.
What’s happening now?

In 2001 the Western democracies, headed by the United States, shit in their pants from fear and, following the tragic event of the World Trade Center, in December of the same year they gave an enormous, incredible gift to China. Something to put under the Christmas tree.

They let China (without asking for anything in exchange) become a member of the WTO, the World Trade Organization.

Nothing important, a mere pittance!

They could have waited for China to implode, like the Soviet Union did. They could have waited for it to fall like a mature fruit and open itself up to democracy and reform. But NO! Low level bureaucrats, a world-wide lobby of politicians and business people, have decided to allow China to become part of the WTO without asking for anything in return, except for a few vague promises. Does this seem at all reasonable?

The indolent democracies shored up a decrepit system which was in the throes of death. They reanimated it, furnishing it with the oxygen it needed in order to survive. In this way, they perpetrated a regime of oppression, producing disastrous consequences.

Great. Well done.

We are neither happy nor complacent. We are not happily rushing to the party in order to obtain our piece of the Olympic pie that governments, business people, sponsors, committees, associations, midgets, dancers etc. are all running after.  On the contrary, we are worried.

Worried about the democracies who no longer have any minimal level of mental clarity in recognizing their mistakes. Instead, they are creating alarming situations through their mind-sets, which are more concentrated on business than on politics: from the negation of human rights to the imprisonment and murder of political dissidents, from the repression of religious freedom to the absence of free press.

The Chinese really have everything…

A superpower that constantly threatens to swallow up Taiwan, that illegally occupies Tibet, that sends their guard dogs, the Burman generals, to massacre the Buddhist monks who peacefully demonstrate in their own country.

The truth is that China is now exporting oppression, in addition to the toxic and poisonous products it is producing with its billion or more slaves.

But it’s still not too late.

Soon, the Olympic Games will be held.

If the democratic countries are able to regain their mental clarity and recover from the “political Alzheimer’s” they have been suffering from, if they are pressured from below, by public opinion, if a movement that refuses this, that is disgusted by it, begins with the people, the institutions, associations, you who are reading this, then something can be done. It won’t be too late.

We have no desire to honor, praise or publicize the leaders of a bloodthirsty regime.

We grant them no merit or glory.

Let’s unite and boycott this disgrace that’s hanging over us like a natural disaster, like an earthquake, a volcano, a meteorite.

BOYCOTT THE BEIJING OLYMPICS 2008!


(from http://www.unmadeinchina.org/contStd.asp?lang=en&idPag=38)

Posted in Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

Alberta’s Carbon Emissions Go Missing

Posted by keith on 18th February 2008

Carbon Intensity not Emissions

Whoops, there goes another statistic, out of the window before someone notices it’s gone. The Canadian Province of Alberta have a government that are particularly adept at this move, as I found to my annoyance when searching for some figures while researching my book.

It seemed simple enough: go and find out whether the carbon emissions of Alberta have gone up as result of the mining of oil sands in the Athabasca region. You might remember an article I published about this on The Sietch Blog and a little expose I did on Shell, on this very site not long ago – it’s pretty obvious from these that the emissions are bound to be going up. So what a surprise when I go to look for them, to find that the figures are missing, airbrushed from history to be replaced by the magical economic plaything called “Carbon Intensity” (or in Alberta’s case, Greenhouse Gas Intensity, just to make sure everything is neatly covered).

Apparently the quantity of greenhouse gases went down by 20% between 1994 and 2004, but only when compared to the huge amount of money Alberta is making from oil production; when you consider that Alberta’s Gross Domestic Product  went up by 3.6% per year in the same period  then you realise that, in fact, Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions have actually gone up by 20%.

They don’t want you to know that, of course, and the Canadian Government are more than happy to let them get on with this, because Alberta is the big cheese, the top dog, the grand wizard of economic output:

“The federal government will receive 41 per cent of $123 billion of total government revenues from the oil sands”
(from CAPP, Industry Facts and Information)

Odd then that even the Government of Alberta say, on the very same page they banished the Carbon Emissions from:

“As greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere, they contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect, causing the increase in global temperature to take place at a faster rate than has ever been recorded. It is predicted that as temperatures continue to increase in the coming years, we will see more heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.”

When it comes to money versus life, then money always wins where politicians are concerned.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

EDF Energy : Save Energy, But Not Too Much If You Don’t Mind

Posted by keith on 13th February 2008

EDF Save Our Business

When an energy company, especially one that also generates electricity, urges its customers to use less of its product then my heckles are immediately up. One or two energy companies – the small ones, mind – see being environmentally friendlier as good sense, not just from a business point of view; but it’s the big ones, Duke Energy, RWE Group, BG, EDF Energy, who really make me suspicious when they talk of “saving energy”.

To put things in a nutshell, some companies are being forced to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of energy trading schemes the countries they operate in have signed up to. Trading greenhouse gases is not something I advocate – it just pushes the pollution somewhere else, and merely incorporates something that should be a global right – namely the right not to have your environment destroyed. The same companies also have to be seen to be doing the “right thing”, after all, who wants to be seen as a big polluter in a dying world?

But the trick is not to actually do anything useful, but instead merely to seem to be doing something useful. Like encouraging your customers to save energy. In the case of EDF Energy, the vast majority of their UK electricity comes from coal, despite what they imply on their web site. They have two 2GW coal-fired stations here and here. They also have a scheme which is apparently intended to encourage customers to reduce their emissions. Here’s how it works:

1) Use EDF Energy’s products for a year and record your energy usage through billing.
2) Whoops, first you have to be a Nectar Card holder. Nectar is a reward card, that allows participating companies to know everything about your buying habits.
3) When your year has finished, you stay with EDF Energy for another year and record your energy use through billing.
4) After that year, if you have reduced your energy consumption at all, even by just one unit, then you get lots of Nectar Points.
5) If you reduce your energy consumption by 50% then you get no more rewards than if you hardly reduce your consumption at all.

The benefit to the customer is…hmm! not really sure here. Oh, yes, 1000 Nectar Points. I tried to find out what you can get for 1000 Nectar Points, and really struggled – even The Da Vinci Code costs 1,700 points. I think you get £5 off at Sainsburys for all your hard work. Well done!

The benefit to EDF Energy is:

1) They have a guaranteed customer for 2 years, which is vital in a dynamic market.
2) They don’t lose on energy costs because the customer only has to reduce consumption by 1 unit
3) They get to sell information about you to 3rd parties. I’m not lying, this is in their terms and conditions:

“By registering and accepting these Rules, you are also agreeing to allow EDF Energy to use, disclose and share with other relevant companies (including LMUK) all information relating to you which is reasonably required for the purposes of registering you, managing and properly operating this Scheme” (from https://www.edfenergy.com/readreducereward/showTermsAndConditions.do)

So, do EDF really care about reducing greenhouse gases?

What do you think?

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 2 Comments »

Tesco : Cheap Chickens Are NOT A Survival Mechanism

Posted by keith on 11th February 2008

Battery Farming Tesco

I think by now everyone in the UK has heard of the £1.99 whole chicken being sold in Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in Europe. In fact I would be surprised if the news hasn’t spread elsewhere; such is the disgust being shown by many people who previously (had it not been for the likes of Jamie Oliver – see this article) would not have given a fig. In fact there are still many people who don’t give a fig that chickens are being bred in brutal conditions and sold as a bargain bin line; like this person who wrote to a London newspaper:

“I don’t give a fig about the welfare of chickens and I’m tired of well-heeled liberal bores in expensive areas of the South-East telling me what I should eat and how much I should pay for it.”

That is so obviously wrong on so many levels, but I would just like to ask the writer whether they are happy growing and killing their own food. If so, then you just carry on eating…somehow, though, I think the answer might be “No”.

There are others who do give a fig (there are lots of figs flying about), such as this person in the same paper:

“I’m on a tight budget, but I’d rather feed my kids vegetables than substandard, poor-quality chicken.”

Not quite a welfare evangelist, but sensible, all the same. Tesco, on the other hand, don’t have a leg to stand on. They say, in a press release:

“Tesco today announced it has doubled its order for premium chicken – which means there will be far more Free Range, Willow Farm, Finest and organic chicken available for shoppers.”

and then say:

“Tesco is also cutting the price of standard whole birds from £3.30 to £1.99 to ensure shoppers on a budget also benefit. This lower price will mean families can sit down to roast chicken and all the trimmings for less than £1.00 per person.”

Hang on! So what proportion of their chickens are “higher welfare”?

“This will bring the proportion of higher welfare chicken Tesco sells up to around 30 per cent of total chicken sales, an increase of 70 per cent compared to this time last year.”

Which means that 70% of their chicken is, to be quite frank, crappy welfare. They say as much themselves.

I’ll stick to nut roast if you don’t mind.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »

World Bank : Doing Bad Things…As Usual

Posted by keith on 8th February 2008

Zoellick World Bank

Nice guy Robert Zoellick. Hand-picked by George Bush in 2007 to ensure the interests of the USA remain paramount in the policies of one of the world’s largest money lenders, his replacement of the shamed Paul Wolfowitz was really a like-for-like swap, so it’s no surprise that the World Bank is in the news again as arch hypocrites.

Founded in 1944 to fund the reconstruction of post-war Europe, the World Bank, or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development shifted its focus in the 1950s to funding “development” projects in poor countries. The underlying aim is now, in fact, to ensure that any financial, infrastructure or political systems operating in these countries become market-led, thus allowing corporations and Western government interests (essentially the same thing) to control the resources and public purses of poorer countries. The lending agreements are corrupting, to say the least.

Here is an excerpt from the a conditions of lending agreement with Armenia:

“The Borrower has: (i) adopted a privatization strategy for power sector enterprises satisfactory to the Association; and (ii) issued a letter of invitation for international financial advisors to assist in implementing said privatization strategy.”

That was from 1997. Just in case you think things have changed, this is from a 2005 lending agreement with Serbia:

“In order to increase collections from industrial consumers, political will is required, particularly where enforcement of payments discipline requires disconnection. Evidence from elsewhere in the region suggests that payments problems of this nature are best tackled through restructuring and privatization of large industry.”

So it is no surprise that they are in the news again, this time having been found to be a major lender to projects that are causing massive deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. The Independent newspaper reported at length on this appalling hypocrisy, running counter to many of its now public aims:

“In a single project last year, the IFC – part of the World Bank group – handed $9m to Brazil’s leading beef processor to upgrade its slaughterhouse operations in the Amazon, despite an environmental study, carried out for the IFC, which showed that expansion of a single slaughterhouse in Maraba would lead to the loss of up to 300,000 hectares of forest to make way for more cattle.”

They lie, they manipulate, they are the World Bank.

Posted in Political Hypocrisy, Public Sector Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

Super Tuesday : The Day The Earth Vanished

Posted by keith on 6th February 2008

Missing Earth

Yesterday was “Super Tuesday”. It was a big day in American politics and, true to form, the Earth suddenly found itself without a representative in the USA. 

When politics really gets media-savvy then this is what happens:

1) Facts go out of the window; nice words takes over.
2) Public appeal comes to the forefront; politicians have to be seen to be popular,
3) Home issues comprise 90% of the stated policies, especially the “economy” (A.K.A. consumer spending).
4) The planet disappears in a cloud of rhetoric.

I didn’t have to watch the speeches to know this, it’s been going on ever since real power was taken out of the hands of the voting public and placed into the pockets of the super-rich and the corporate lobbyists. What I didn’t expect, though, was how obvious the hole is, once you realise that environmental degradation is – without a shadow of doubt – the most critical issue all humans face.

But I’ll let you decide for yourself how much these candidates (and their families) care about our future…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB16r8K4NHI (Hillary Clinton speech)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUmtQul2ROo (John McCain speech)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOTlQEA8s5o (Barack Obama speech)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Qti3G1LMt0 (Mitt Romney’s family speaking)

And don’t let them forget that you know what they forgot.

Posted in Political Hypocrisy | 1 Comment »