The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for July, 2008

BP Tells Me I’m Not Green Enough

Posted by keith on 31st July 2008

Greencurve To Salvation

I’m really, really sorry. I had no idea at all that I was living a terrible life, but it took those folks at BP to pull me back into the real world. According to their Greencurve there’s so much more I could be doing to make my life greener. Look at the graph (sorry “curve”) above and you can see I’m nowhere near “Aspire!” — whatever that means. I must be re-educated by BP.

Here’s what they say I should do to be greener (and my feelings):

“Try to travel when other people aren’t. This keeps you from wasting gas starting and stopping and can cut down your energy use considerably.”

(But I almost never drive — there was no option for going everywhere by foot, bus or train.)

“Wash your car at a car wash. 85% of car washes’ water is reclaimed and their systems are much more efficient than ours.”

(I never wash my car; the rain does it for me. It uses no energy and wastes no water.)

“For outdoor lighting, use solar. It’s easier to find than you might think (on most home and garden furnishings websites, do a search for “solar lighting”)”

(But…but…I don’t have any lights in my garden.)

“Start a recycling program in your neighborhood, local community center or school — anywhere a lot of paper is used.”

(Please sir, my council already do collect my recycling, and I don’t produce much waste anyway. And what about everything apart from paper?)

Gosh, how castigated I am feeling.

This is what is known as “conchoice” — consumer choice with the emphasis on the “con”. As I write in A Matter Of Scale:

Consumer choice would be far better entitled “Conchoice”, a term describing the true level of choice that individuals are provided with, should they find themselves within the consumer culture. Benjamin R. Barber puts it like this: “The apparent widening of individual consumer choices actually shrinks the field of social choices…For example, the American’s freedom to choose among scores of automobile brands was secured by sacrificing the liberty to choose between private and public transportation. This politics of commodity…offers the feel of freedom while diminishing the range of options and the power to affect the larger world.” The individual is being conned: there is no choice.

Look at the way you are currently living: you can “choose” between plasma, LCD, cathode ray tube or Internet TV, but not having a television is inconceivable to most people in the consumer culture; you can “choose” between shopping at Walmart, Aldi, Tesco, Carrefour or any other supermarket, but not using a supermarket is impossible for hundreds of millions of people who need to buy food and have no way of growing it themselves.

How much of your life was simply picked off the shelves of the Conchoice Mall, and how much of it came out of a conscious decision to live in that particular way?

I recommend you try out the Greencurve yourself, and have a think about the “choices” BP are presenting to you. This is not BP’s world, it is your world, and you can make your own choices, regardless of what a polluting oil giant might think. Tell them where to stick their “Greencurve”.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 1 Comment »

Bosch Planet Savers: Lies And Hypocrisy

Posted by keith on 28th July 2008

Not Planet Savers

A few years ago, before I had hit the “green curve” (as BP like to call it — more of that in another post) I bought a dishwasher. I still have one — not the same one, which eventually broke down irreparably, but an identical model which someone else was throwing out — and because my hot water doesn’t come from renewables yet, but my electricity does, we still use it. It’s a Bosch, an “AA” rated one, which means it doesn’t use much electricity or water. But (big but) we don’t actually produce a lot of washing up compared to the average family; we reduce the need to wash before actually washing. That’s just common sense.

When Bosch — who, quite frankly, exist solely to sell appliances — come out with an advert entitled “Planet savers” (note my annotation in the picture, being rather cross when I read it) I have to be very suspicious indeed. The implication is that their products are actually saving the planet. Forget the fact that you might have no washing up at all to do, or you boiled your washing up water on a wood stove — if you buy a Bosch product then you are SAVING THE PLANET!

Does that seem a little disingenuous on behalf of the planet to you? Like all “techno fixes”, when you imply technology has a critical part to play in the restoration of the Earth’s natural systems and habitats to their previous state, you are effectively saying that nature can’t do things well enough on its own. That is certainly true when bombarded with pollutants and greed-driven destruction; but remember that the pollutants and greed-driven destruction are the result of human (more accurately, Civilized Human) agency. Nature doesn’t need technology — commerce and growth needs technology.

It gets worse, though. You might not be able to read the small print at the bottom of the advert, so here it is, with the original emphasis shown:

Trust your instincts. Bosch manufacture some of the most energy and water efficient appliances available. Where possible we use materials labelled for environmental recycling and because we believe product performance need not be compromised to embrace the planet we live on, they are designed to give you the best results every time. To discover more and a chance to win a trip to Florida including a live space shuttle launch and other Disney themed prizes, visit WALL.E at

Words fail me. I only have so much tolerance for bullsh*t.

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 4 Comments »

Surprise – Not All Green PR Is Greenwash!

Posted by keith on 25th July 2008


Believe it or not, I like giving out good news. Ok, I would really like it if the good news was something really tangible and Earth changing, but even a little bit of good news makes the day pass a bit better; which is why I have just come off the telephone feeling slightly warm and not my usual bitter, twisted self.

It started with a random search for greenwashing on the Internet, which turned up a PR company called Futerra. As you know, I hate commerce in its normal form and despise greenwash; so a company that seeks to show other companies how to make themselves look environmentally sound is like a rag to a bull. Their client list is very interesting, including government agencies and corporations, plus a large number of one-off environmental campaigns. Oh, and Greenpeace International are there; which either means they haven’t done their homework (not for the first time) or the PR company isn’t that bad.

Futerra mainly carry out internal marketing, i.e. gearing staff up on how to do the “green” messaging right. They also help companies with their public perception, presenting a great opportunity for greenwashing; so I wondered what they would think about a global coal and bauxite mining company (about as bad as you can get) wanting to look good.

Futerra: “If you’re looking for public perception, that’s not the type of area that we work in.”

Me: “Is that just because of the nature of the company?”

Fut: “Yes.”

Me: “Because of the nature of your company or our company?”

Fut: “Well, the nature of our company [mentions standard trade criteria], but we are in the business of promoting green products, green behaviours, sustainable behaviour, so we wouldn’t promote coal…we wouldn’t even promote clean coal.”

So there you go. A PR company that actually stands by what it says, and may even make some companies a little less likely to greenwash.

Now, back to my bitter, twisted persona…

Posted in Good News! | No Comments »

Woodland Trust: Hypocrites Or Just Foolish?

Posted by keith on 22nd July 2008

Woodland Far Too Trusting

It hurts me to write this as I have been a member of the Woodland Trust for many years. They don’t just buy and protect native woodland in the UK and sensitively plant up large areas of former farm or grazing land, but they are also at the forefront of research into the effects of climate change on woodland — the study known as phenology.

Yes, they have taken the corporate shilling a few times, particularly around Christmas when they involve companies like Tesco and WHSmith in collecting cards for recycling, but in the main they have been — as Austin Powers would say — sound as a pound.

Until I got this through the post:

Woodland Trust Corporate

Obviously it was time to call them up…

…ok, to give them their due, unlike WWF there was no rush to grab the money — the Woodland Trust are clearly being a bit careful, and the list of corporate partners doesn’t read like a Who’s Who of corporate villains; but it is still not a great list.

Barclays are one of the largest banks in the world, who purport to comply to the already weak Equator Principles, yet still have a record of past and present bad lending, causing massive environmental damage.

WHSmith missed chance after chance over the last decade to improve their environmental reputation, for instance failing to stock any recycled materials — I have personal experience of how stubborn they can be.

Parcel Force have moved their local delivery network into a set of major hubs in order to save money, leading to a massive rise in road travel miles. They have all but abandoned their rail-based distribution system in favour of lorries.

Timotei, or rather Unilever, are one of the largest food and toiletry manufacturing corporations in the world. They have a catalogue of bad practices hanging over their heads, not least being a major user of palm oil, (thought you might spot that one, Woodland Trust) and the production of one of the most blatantly racist products on Earth; Fair and Lovely.

Here’s a loud and clear message to all you “environmental” NGOs who are thinking of taking on corporate sponsorship: in the first place, don’t! Corporations exist to make money above anything else, so the net effect of taking the corporate shilling is a net reduction in environmental and social conditions.

Secondly, don’t give them a free greenwashing ticket — you are trying to do good, they are not.

Finally, it will come back and bite you, so think very carefully before you take money from anyone or anything — you could find yourself on The Unsuitablog, and who knows where after that.

Just be careful.

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | No Comments »

EcoSpam: It’s New, It’s Green, It’s Not

Posted by keith on 17th July 2008


I threatened to do it, and I always carry through with my threats (being a good parent, ecologist and all round pain in the backside) so, with great fanfare I would like to induct John Reed into the EcoSpam Hall Of Fame1

John Reed is Creative Director of Elevator Communications, a mainstream and not at all different (despite the claims) PR company. He started sending me spam a few weeks ago, and didn’t stop, regardless of my appeals. As a former IT Security bod, I know it’s risky responding to spam, but this guy has his picture on the website, and doesn’t hide any communication details — not your ordinary spam merchant, or so you would think.

He sends out spam pertaining to be ecologically sound. Here is a sample:

INTERVIEW: Lewis Buchner, CEO of EcoTimber, Inc. (San Rafael, California) is available to talk or meet with you.
NEWS: a new, patented, woven bamboo flooring product has just been introduced by EcoTimber. This new flooring product is significantly harder and more stable than most tropical hardwoods and can be used in residential and commercial applications.

California’s Solar Pioneer and his “Green Business”, Berkeley-style Story Notes:
Interview: Gary Gerber, Founder and President of Sun Light and Power is available to talk with you. As 2008 President of CALSEIA – the California Solar Energy Association – he can talk about the growth of the solar energy industry over the past 32 years, pending legislation, potential roadblocks to the growth of solar and the future of this industry in an age of $137 a barrel oil.

Publicly traded Carbon Sciences, Inc (Santa Barbara, CA) the developer of a breakthrough technology to transform harmful carbon
Publicly traded Carbon Sciences, Inc (Santa Barbara, CA) the developer of a breakthrough technology to transform harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) into high value, earth-friendly products, Monday announced that it has signed a joint research agreement with Abo University, Finland. This new technology converts CO2, a greenhouse gas, into commercially useful products and providing a technological alternative to the unknown consequences of sequestering (burying) CO2 under the land or oceans. Due to the unique geology of Finland, underground sequestration of CO2 is not an economically viable option.

And so on. The usual eco-bollocks of the highest order. When you look into the kinds of people this guy represents, then you realise that his motivation is rather suspect, to say the least:

University of Tennessee Mouse Brain Library : The MBL consists of high-resolution images and databases of brains from many genetically characterized strains of mice.

KrispyKreme! : Junk food purveyors to the working business breakfast.

Shea homes : Largest private house builder in the USA. Lots of big luxurious pads.

TAG Oil : Canadian-based petroleum company with more than 1,000,000 acres of exploration land in New Zealand.

Along with many other companies you really wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with. I’m not alone in feeling the pain of EcoSpam. Here is the slightly twee, but harmless Green Living Tips on the same subject:

Today I received my first piece of “green” spam. The subject line was “Don’t invest in gold, invest in green”. It was touting yet another miracle, totally natural and sustainably produced exotic fruit drink that would do all sorts of things for me; probably including some of the incredible and pretty much impossible physical, umm.. enhancements, that other types of spam offer :).

Green spam will only increase; so be really careful when receiving unsolicited email about earth friendly products that you research whatever is being hawked thoroughly before reaching for your credit card.

(Actually, the last thing I would do when receiving spam would be to reach for my credit card — the “Delete” key will do just fine.)

A slightly more caustic response (and hooray! for that) from Intemperate Remarks:

G Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director of Greenpeace India is sending me spam every few days. The mails come from fake Gmail accounts like, or from their domain IDs like or

This a*shole wants me to plant a tree. To save the world. Before it’s too late. I understand the gravity of the situation, with evils like Global Warming, Global Prosperity, Capitalism and all running riot. Considering that such high stakes like the survival of green beetles in sub-Saharan Africa are involved, it is understandable if this jerk has given up basic decency like not spamming unknown people’s private email IDs, and joined the league of snake-oil salesmen offering oriental remedies for towering erections.

You see, this EcoSpam is just another branch in the ever-expanding world of electronic marketing. Just because it says it’s green – as you well know if you read The Unsuitablog regularly – doesn’t mean it is green. Any company wishing to sell a product for a net profit, regardless of its pedigree, is contributing to a net degradation of the global ecosystem: end of story. It may take money away from more damaging products, but it still perpetuates the market economy and takes us ever further away from the things that really matter — like having a real life.

1. Possibly to be repeated

Posted in Adverts, Advice, General Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Tony Blair: A Sudden Turn Of Conscience? No.

Posted by keith on 14th July 2008

Thanks to

My inbox has been overflowing with love and best wishes to the planet from all sorts of people recently — one of them is no less than Tony Blair, that great peacekeeper1, climate saviour2 and lover of human rights3 is pushing his big plan (yes, another one) to return the planet to its former health. It’s called “Breaking The Climate Deadlock” and you can read the latest report here4.

The e-mail from Tony (well, there were three kisses at the bottom, so it must be personal) said:

TOKYO – Tony Blair today (Friday) published the first report from the ‘Breaking the Climate Deadlock’ initiative which will set out the framework for a new global deal for a low carbon future.

Mr Blair presented Prime Minister Fukuda with a copy of the report in his role as host of the G8 summit this year. The report has been drawn together with a group of recognised climate change experts, under the direction of the former British Prime Minister. It answers a series of practical questions about how the world can move to a low carbon economy.

It identifies the actions and questions that need to be resolved by political and business leaders over the next 18 months to achieve a successful outcome to the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009. The report contains a warning for the world to get on this path now or face irreversible damage and much more cost later. But the report also contains a message of optimism that success is possible and the technologies, the capabilities, the resources, and the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of people around the world exists to create a new low-carbon future.

Tony Blair said this report is all about trying to unite the scientists and experts with the political leaders and decision-makers.

Interesting. Uniting who with who? Didn’t mention “businesses” did he?

So who is running Mr Blair’s show at the moment?

Tony Blair came under heavy fire today for accepting a lucrative job with a Wall Street bank.

Mr Blair, who quit as prime minister in July, is to become a part-time adviser to JPMorgan on a salary rumoured to be at least £500,000 a year. It puts him on course to become the richest former premier in recent history.

He also revealed he expected to take a “small handful” of similar jobs with other companies in the near future.

So, between his various jobs providing expert advice about how to dodge and weave your way around the political system and negotiate great deals with foreign nations, former Prime Minister Blair is intent on saving the world. So long as it’s on his terms: like ensuring he goes everywhere by private jet

“those wishing to book him on the international lecture circuit are routinely told that providing Mr Blair with his own airliner is a non-negotiable requirement.”

Clearly a man not prepared to budge his principles, nor one who is prepared to see others budge on theirs, considering he famously stated that he didn’t think it “realistic” that people should stop flying on holiday. A dose of realism — like perhaps the Arctic ice caps being free of ice this year; or increasing regional food shortages caused by extreme weather; or the sudden drop in the ability of tropical soils to absorb carbon dioxide — seems to be in order here. But we are talking about a man that fervantly refused to ever place the UK business lobby into an uncomfortable position, preferring instead to demonstrate the power of the free market in regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

And what a dismal failure that has been. It was bound to be — he did it because Blair is a corporate man, through-and-through. Read the report I mentioned earlier, and for which the e-mail was so lovingly sent to me, and you will see the truth:

Just as there is a large body of evidence on the risks of climate change, there is also a large body of evidence on what we can do about it. There is a growing consensus that emissions can be reduced without damaging prosperity in either the developed or developing world. Reducing emissions will require a transformation of our economies, but not giving up on growth.

And there’s the rub: protecting the planet, but not at the expense of economic growth. Continued growth, which keeps the corporations happy, so they keep offering Tony his lucrative jobs; increased “prosperity” which makes people believe they are going to get a better life, despite the definition of “prosperity” having little to do with the Declaration of Human Rights, and everything to do with the acquisition of material goods. Let’s make it clear — economic growth is NOT SUSTAINABLE. It never has been, and never will be. In order to grow an economy, you need to use resources at an increasing rate.

But let’s just duck that small issue, while there is still money to be made. Just remember, Mr Blair, your cash will be of no use to you at all when you have to scrape a living from the remnants of the planet you pretended to care about. Fancy changing your mind about economic growth?

No, thought not. Moron.


1) Need I mention Iraq? Thought not.
2) Oversaw the UK actually increasing its carbon emissions despite the rhetoric of global leadership.
3) Opposed the setting up of Collective Tribal Rights under the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
4) From The Climate Group; more about their sponsors later.

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

British Press: On The Side Of The Money

Posted by keith on 10th July 2008

With thanks to Von Pip

And it was going so well — The Independent and The Guardian running numerous articles about the dangers of climate change and the hypocrisy of government and business in pretending they are doing something when they aren’t. The Times, with its special green sections. The Scotsman, with it’s thoughtful analysis of environmental issues. Even The Daily Mail and The Sun have been running with a number of stories, taking the consumer culture to task in favour of planet Earth.

[Screech of brakes!]

But what’s this coming towards the “Great British Public” (© every tabloid newspaper)? It’s car taxes designed to at least encourage, if not to actually make, drivers to drive less polluting vehicles. If there’s one thing you don’t do in Britain, it’s mess with drivers and their cars. Oh yes, we can all bemoan the state of the Earth; take issue with melting ice-caps; be disgusted with the Pacific trash island — but touch the British Motorist’s pride and joy and you will have the press to deal with:

9m will feel pain of road tax reforms: More than nine million motorists will lose out under controversial road tax reforms, the Government admitted. (The Independent)

Nine million car owners will be hit by tax rises – four times higher than previously estimated: Almost half of all car owners will be up to £245 worse off under plans for massive increases in road tax, the Treasury admitted yesterday. And fewer than one in five will benefit from the controversial move, which was sold as a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. (Daily Mail)

More than nine million motorists face higher tax bills: Gordon Brown has been accused of misleading MPs after the Government admitted that more than nine million motorists would lose out under controversial road tax reforms. (The Times)

Nine million drivers face higher road tax, government admits: ALMOST nine million motorists will lose out under controversial reforms to road tax, the government admitted yesterday. Some 44 per cent of vehicles are expected to be hit under the scheme, compared to just a third who will be better off. (The Scotsman)

10 million face road tax hike: NEARLY ten million motorists will see their car tax bills soar under Labour’s war on gas-guzzlers, it was revealed yesterday. They will be up to £245 worse off when the new banded system comes into full force in 2010. (The Sun — 10 million?)

Only The Guardian has not fallen foul of the rhetoric, and has wisely ignored this non-news item.

And look at the headline language being used by all of the newspapers that had previously expressed a green agenda: “pain”, “tax bills soar”, “lose out”, “hit”, “massive increases”. Anyone would think this was a bad thing; which, of course, you will make sure it is if you want to sell newspapers.

Don’t you just love the media?

Posted in Media Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Video: Ford Exploits Kermit For Greenwashing

Posted by keith on 7th July 2008

I may have covered this before but excuse me while I spit a few more feathers at watching this 30 second advert again.

“I guess it is easy being green!”

Absolutely — tell corporations you don’t need their global sickness in order to lead a good life.

(And what the hell is that metal monster doing on top of a beautiful mountain?)

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

99 Corporations Get Together And Do Some Serious Greenwashing

Posted by keith on 3rd July 2008

Fat Cats

Corporations, basically, run the world: what they do influences billions of people, not just in terms of the environmental impact of their activities, but in making people think that the corporate way is the best way. It’s not quite that simple — corporations are an intrinsic part of the greater cultural behemoth that is known as Industrial Civilization; they are the engines that consume the resources and the humans that are too easily taken in by their lies — and the people who say “yes” to the corporations become part of that machine, and as responsible for the ills of the Earth as anyone else.

But, corporations are still the engines, and when they say, “Do it!” then it happens. When they say they are going to set greenhouse gas targets, then they will get what they want, on their own terms, because you trust them.

A coalition of 99 companies is asking political leaders to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to establish a global carbon market.

Their blueprint for tackling climate change is being handed to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda ahead of next month’s G8 summit in Japan.

Companies involved include Alcoa, British Airways (BA), Deutsche Bank, EDF, Petrobras, Shell and Vattenfall.

They argue that cutting emissions must be made to carry economic advantages.

The business leaders hope their ideas will feed through the G8 into the series of UN climate meetings that are aiming to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol when its current targets expire in 2012.


Have you seen the list of companies, and their demands? Why not read it for yourself.

This is the crux of the policy:

The framework should respect the prerogative of national governments to employ the domestic policies best suited to their own national circumstances. It should encourage all clean technology options to be considered. It should be pragmatic and focus on the most cost-effective emissions abatement possibilities in the short run, particularly in energy efficiency and forest conservation. It should stimulate the international market for products and services that can help the economy adapt to those impacts of climate change that now cannot be avoided. It should be designed as a fair and flexible, international policy framework that can evolve and grow in the long run, stimulating ever wider and more meaningful participation by countries and industries.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the way that the real imperative to remove the sources of anthropogenic global warming and let the Earth return to a state by which it can heal itself has been thrown out in place of lily-livered demands to stimulate product demand and carry on business as usual in every way possible. Screw dealing with the cause of the problem; let’s make a whole new economy out of it!

The devil is in the detail, and the detail is very interesting…

– All major economies, including developing ones such as China and India, should be included in the post-Kyoto deal, with richer countries committing to deeper and earlier emissions reduction. (The nice, logical lead-in)

– Governments should aspire to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (Less than even the IPCC are demanding, and it’s only an “aspiration”)

– Governments and businesses should urgently explore bottom-up approaches to reducing emissions (Meaning what, exactly?)

– A global carbon trading system should be established as soon as possible (This is the real target! Corporation love trading energy. This is a massive get out from action.)

– Emissions caps should be applied flexibly across industry, with some sectors allowed leeway to preserve competitiveness. (What! So what exactly is the global economy competing with? This is a massive get out as well.)

But it’s no surprise when you read the names of the corporations on the Steering Board:

Alain J. P. Belda, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alcoa, USA (Metals)
Martin J. Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer, American International Group (AIG), USA (Finance)
Michael R. Splinter, President and Chief Executive Officer, Applied Materials, USA (Manufacturing)
Oleg V. Deripaska, Chairman, Supervisory Board, Basic Element Company, Russian Federation (Energy, Metals, Construction, Aviation)
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, British Airways Plc, United Kingdom (Aviation)
Josef Ackermann, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Bank AG, Germany (Finance)
James E. Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy Corporation, USA (Energy Generation)
Pierre Gadonneix, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Electricité de France, France (Energy Generation)
Phirwa Jacob Maroga, Chief Executive, Eskom, South Africa (Energy Generation)
Vyatcheslav Sinyugin, Chief Executive Officer, JCS RusHydro, Russian Federation (Energy Generation)
José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras, Brazil (Oil)
Jeroen Van der Veer, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Netherlands (Oil)
Solomon D. Trujillo, Chief Executive Officer, Telstra Corporation, Australia (Telecommunications)
Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, TNT NV, Netherlands (Global Distribution)
Tsunehisa Katsumata, President, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Japan (Energy Generation)
Lars G. Josefsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vattenfall AB, Sweden (Energy Generation)

All but two of these companies have a huge amount to gain from carbon trading, but most importantly, they are setting the agenda before anyone else gets a look in. As I said, the corporations always get what they want, and this will be no exception.

It’s a good thing we can see through it all, and are doing our best to bring down Industrial Civilization: aren’t we?

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies | No Comments »