The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for August, 2008

What To Buy…Or Not?

Posted by keith on 27th August 2008

Empty Bags

A very thoughtful comment by Unsuitablog reader Matt Fontaine, has made me realise that if so many companies are bad, this leaves people in a very difficult position…or so it would seem. In other words, “What companies should we buy from?”

Readers of my Earth Blog, and those who have reached Chapter 16 of A Matter Of Scale (read the rest before you get there, please) will already know what I am going to say: in essence, before you even ask the question, “Where can I buy this thing?” you should ask the question, “Should I buy this thing at all?” For the people who espouse the wonders of “green” consumption, or “Greensumption” I say to you: “Do you really care about our future, or are you just trying to assuage your guilt?”

This brilliant video says it all:

As for the formal advice that Matt asked for, I can only reiterate what I said in the article “The New Shopping Order“:

There is a colossal battle to be won, against virtually every commercial interest on Earth, that relies almost entirely on people choosing to buy new and replace existing items that they have at a rate that is increasing at currently 5 times the speed of global population growth.

In short, we need to have a completely new attitude to shopping, where reality and conscience takes precedence over the open mouthed acceptance by the public of new goods, and where the people of Earth are prepared to stop for a moment and think about the effect that every single new item that they purchase is having on this planet.

There needs to be a New Shopping Order. Being part of it is simple : next time you want to buy some new trainers, a new lawnmower, computer, digital decoder, anything at all, ask yourself the following questions, in this order:

1) Do I need to buy this thing at all?

2) Can I repair or refurbish this thing, or have somebody do it for me?

3) Can I buy or obtain this thing, or something similar, pre-owned?

4) Can I buy this thing in a more ethical way?

As for point 4, which sort of addresses Matt’s immediate question, if you have to buy something new, which is obviously the case with food and some other goods that can only be used once, like most toiletries, then I recommend:

– buying from a small company or individual producer
– buying as locally as possible
– buying those products which are the least polluting.

That’s what most of the “greensumption” web sites can advise on…but remember, it’s still consumption.

Posted in Advice | No Comments »

Lord Smith Denies UK Government To Tell Truth

Posted by keith on 24th August 2008

Thames Flood - Courtesy of “Flood” The Movie

In the wake of Phil Woolas’ absurd proclamation that all laws are wrong and that the burden of proof now lies with the defendent (imagine how that would pan out following a bruising Saturday night), Lord Smith of Finsbury has decided that it’s time to speak out about the UK Government’s recent torrent of greenwash.

Ostensibly speaking to The Independent about the need to make a tactical retreat in the light of rising sea levels and increasing storminess, he also took some fierce swipes at the government’s two-faced attitude to environmental issues:

*Building a third runaway at Heathrow Airport would be a “mistake” because of pollution and aircraft noise;

*Plans for a new generation of coal-fired electric power stations should be abandoned until the Government is certain they will not pump out harmful gases;

*The proposed Severn barrage will destroy fish stocks and wreck bird habitats.

This, of course, means that Lord Smith will shortly be out of a job, but for the time being The Unsuitablog salutes him for daring to stand up to UK Business Champions PLC (a.k.a. the UK Government) at such a crucial time. No wonder they are so keen to scrap the House of Lords — too many free thinkers for comfort…

Posted in Good News!, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Shifting The Burden Of Proof Changes Nothing In The GM Debate

Posted by keith on 18th August 2008

Phil Woolas Anti Environment Minister

Imagine the scene: you walk into a bar and someone immediately faces you up, brandishing their fists, red with pent-up aggression clearly eager to send you on to the floor or worse. He screams into your face, spittle flecks flying across your nose and lips, “Prove to me that you deserve not to be punched repeatedly in the face!”

Doesn’t sound very reasonable, does it? Especially considering that you have never met the person and, to your knowledge, haven’t done anything except mind your own business and just get on with the job of living for most of your life. Yet, here is a situation where the aggressor is asking you to explain to them why they should not hit you. Surely, in all that is logical and moral, it should be the aggressor explaining the reasons for wanting to hit you.

And yet, the aggressor seemingly now has the moral upper hand as far as the UK Government are concerned. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Environment Minister Phil Woolas made the following extraordinary response to Prince Charles regarding the use of genetically modified crops:

“It’s easy for those of us with plentiful food supplies to ignore the issue, but we have a responsibility to use science to help the less well off where we can. I’m asking to see the evidence. If it has been a disaster, then please provide the evidence.”

Prince Charles, for his part had stated that the current use of genetically modified crops had been an environmental disaster which, if you have any concern for the irreversible genetic changes seeping into wild plant varieties or the green deserts that accompany the large scale planting of GMOs, or even the completely unknown congenital effects of inserting alien genes into a natural organism, you couldn’t reasonably argue with. In fact Prince Charles is being extremely far-sighted: he knows the power that corporations have over governments, a power that is far in excess of any power previously known since the dawn of humanity, so is right to predict a future in which any pretence of environmental concern by the greenwashing business lobby will be completely washed away by their irrepressible hunger for more and more money.

The logical about face by the UK government does not reflect genuine concern for world hunger; it reflects a massive business opportunity for the GMO companies in finally getting the big break they have lobbied for over the last 20 years. As with the Canadian and Russian submarines currently cruising the widening Arctic waters to protect their potential oil and gas reserves, the GMO corporations are cruising the government lobbies of the world as the people of the world become ever more addicted to a meat rich diet that requires an inordinate amount of grain to sustain, an oil rich life that is cutting into global food supplies and a changing climate that is catching farmers around the world by surprise.

All of these changes have been initiated by corporations and their slavishly obedient government servants. The slavishly obedient government servants only have to change the way we think about evidence, and the GM experiment will finally be rolled out to the farms of the world. An unstoppable, irreversible cancer that was allowed to happen all because we trusted politicians.

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Fidelity: A Tiny Stitch In An Ocean Of Wounds

Posted by keith on 12th August 2008

Fidelity Dripping Blood

I feel like a cyclist with my mouth open sometimes — keep moving forwards and the flies will just pop in from time to time. Some of those flies will be big and nasty…like this one I received from a PR company this morning:

Hello Keith,

One of the ironies of the modern era is that computers haven’t helped us to use less paper. Instead we are using vastly more than ever before. This is absolute disaster for the environment. One fifth of all wood harvested ends up as paper. Pulp and paper is the fifth largest consumer of energy and in the US paper accounts for 40 percent of all solid waste.

So why do computers cause us to use so much paper?

To be sure it’s easy to print documents out and paper is portable. Another major reason is that we are still using antiquated paper and pen to sign and execute contracts. DocuSign is helping to change that with its end-to-end contract execution service that lets companies process and sign documents on the Web.

Now Fidelity Investments has jumped on board with DocuSign and will be rolling out the company’s e-signature and electronic contract execution services to thousands of independent advisors. Not only does this save time and money for the advisors while improving security, it also greatly reduces the need to print, fax and use overnight delivery services to hand-deliver documents. Instead, documents are sent, signed and processed over the Web.

We see Fidelity’s adoption of e-signatures as a major advancement in the way that financial institutions work and a sign that there is a greener future ahead. Can I arrange for you to speak with executives from Fidelity Investments and DocuSign, as well as a customer, to give you their impression of how this service works industry works.

Please let me know if you have questions or need more information.

Brian Edwards
McKenzie Worldwide PR
(503) 863-2002
briane@mckenzieworldwide.com

Well, of course I’m going to speak to a load of corporate executives and give them some free advertising — after all that’s what The Unsuitablog does all the time, isn’t it? How stupid does a person have to be to send such an e-mail to this web site? I suppose as stupid as they have to be to think that people are going believe a company like Fidelity Investments actually care about the planet.

Let’s take a look at the kind of investments this new, ethical Fidelity are offering today…


Powershares Aerospace & Defense Portfolio

The top ten holdings of this investment fund which focusses on the tools of war are as follows:

Honeywell International, Inc. (“defence” technology manufacture)
Lockheed Martin Corporation (primary arms manufacture)
Boeing Company (“defense” airplane manufacture)
United Technologies (“defense” airplane manufacture)
General Dynamics (“defense” shipping manufacture)
Raytheon Company (primary arms manufacture)
Northrop Grumman Corporation (primary arms manufacture)
ITT Corporation (“defence” technology manufacture)
Textron, Inc. (“defence” equipment manufacture)
L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. (“defence” technology manufacture)

Claymore/SWM Canadian Energy Income

Primarily invests in oil sands (the most polluting form of energy) and other heavily polluting energies. Top ten are:

Oilsands Quest, Inc. (oil sands)
Canadian Oil Sands Trust Trust Unit (oil sands)
Penn West Energy Trust Trust Unit (oil and gas)
Suncor Energy, Inc. (oil and gas)
Baytex Energy Trust Trust Unit (oil sands)
Imperial Oil (oil sands)
OPTI Canada Inc. (oil sands)
UTS Energy Corp (oil sands)
Enerplus Resources Fund Trust Unit (oil and gas)
Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. (oil sands)

Market Vectors Global Agribusiness ETF

This is a big one – $1.6billion worth, in companies resposible for changing the way nature works or just destroying it. Top ten are:

Syngenta AG ADR (GMOs)
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Inc. (fertilizer mining)
Deere & Company (deforestation)
The Mosaic Company (fertilizer mining)
Monsanto Company (GMOs)
Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (GM soybean processing)
Wilmar International Ltd (palm oil production)
IOI (palm oil production)
Yara Int’l (fertilizer manufacturer)
Agrium, Inc. (fertilizer supplier)


This is just a small sample of the kinds of products you can buy from Fidelity — the company that are promising “a greener future ahead” — out of many more that contain every awful company that you can imagine. In short, Fidelity offer investments in all of the least ethical companies on Earth, and by implication that makes Fidelity a completely unethical company, and thus by further implication, by linking themselves in a press release with Fidelity, that makes Docusign a completely unethical company as well. And finally, by sending out this e-mail, supporting both Fidelity and Docusign, that makes the company who sent it to me — McKenzie Worldwide PR — a completely unethical company too.

(Oh, and by the way, the reason companies use so much paper is to churn out endless amounts of crap telling us why we need them…)

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Promotions | 2 Comments »

Persil : Dirt Is Good For Business

Posted by keith on 8th August 2008

Persil Business

Children should get out more; they need to discover the world for themselves, connect with this world and understand that life does not exist in a bubble of technology or commerce. In fact, under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 31 states:

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

Pretty unequivocal. In the UK (for this is the focus of this article), a charity called Playday, also have this to say:

- All children need opportunities to take their own risks when playing; they need and want challenge, excitement and uncertainty in play.
- Through play, children can learn how to manage challenge and risk for themselves in everyday situations.
- Opportunities for children to take risks while playing are reducing, as increasingly health and safety considerations are impacting on children’s play.
- Adults should provide for children and young people to have adventurous play opportunities.

Which reinforces the UN Convention in a very positive way. In short, children should be playing as much as possible, without interference.

Interestingly, Article 32 of the UN Convention says the following:

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

For a while now Persil, or rather the manufacturer of this detergent, Unilever, have been running a campaign called “Dirt Is Good”, the implication being that it doesn’t matter how much mess kids get into, it’s all part of being a child. Of course, by running a campaign that links such a positive message with what is — if we are being perfectly honest here — a bunch of cleaning chemicals, Unilever get big kudos for their positive attitude but, more importantly for them, get big sales.

Is this child exploitation? According to the UN Convention Article 32 any such exploitation would be completely unacceptable — and while this is bread and butter to a huge corporation, a charity like Playday really should know better than to let commercial interests get in the way of good clean fun.

Then there is this list

Pentasodium Triphosphate Builder
Sodium Silicoaluminate Builder
Sodium Carbonate Peroxide Oxidising Agent
Sodium Dodecylbenzenesulfonate Surfactant
Aqua Bulking Agent
Sodium Carbonate Buffering Agent
C12-15 Pareth-7 Surfactant
Sodium Acetate Tablet Disintegrant
Tetraacetyl Ethylene Diamine Oxidising Agent
Sodium Silicate Builder
Sodium Sulfate Bulking Agent
Sodium Stearate Surfactant
Ethylene Diamine Tetra Methylene Phosphonic Acid Ca/Na salt Sequestrant
Maize Starch Bulking Agent
Parfum Fragrance
Citric Acid Builder
Cellulose Gum Anti-redeposition Agent
Dimorpholinopyridazinone Optical Brightener
PVP Dye Transfer Inhibitor
Sodium Acrylic Acid/MA Copolymer Structurant
Simethicone Antifoaming Agent
Sodium Chloride Bulking Agent
Sodium Bentonite Softness Extender
Sodium Polyacrylate Structurant
Glyceryl Stearate Emulsifier
Protease Enzyme
Sodium Polyaryl Sulfonate Surfactant
Amylase Enzyme
Lipase Enzyme
CI 74160 Colourant

That is the full ingredient list for the best selling form of Persil, the biological liquid. I’m not going to go into the chemistry of this list, but it would be fair to say that to blindly go into a trusting relationship with this product, containing all of these substances — whether as a parent, charity or most importantly, a child who usually has no choice over what their clothes are washed in and what substances pour into the waste water system and eventually into rivers, lakes and seas — is pure folly.

Persil is a commercial product; it exists to make money for business. Never forget that.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Promotions, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | 5 Comments »

Facebook Users: Virtual Trees And All That Nonsense

Posted by keith on 5th August 2008

Facebook

A don’t really have a problem with Facebook; it’s becoming pretty ubiquitous, but so far I haven’t seen any reason to damn it to hell. It’s not trying to be something it’s not; unlike most of the other things I feature on The Unsuitablog.

I even have a couple of groups of my own; one for Green Seniors, and one for A Matter Of Scale. Feel free to join!

No, the problem I have with Facebook is the users. More specifically the users who think by sending electronic versions of natural artefacts, messages of hope and pointless games, that they are actually going to make a difference. Nothing is further from the truth.

Here is a short list of the types of messages I have had from otherwise well-meaning and nice people recently:

1 save the earth invitation : a fun and addicting game that helps support green causes. Just by joining you will be saving 10 square feet of rainforest.

(Actually it gives a bit of money to the Nature Conservancy, a friend of big business. 1 acre is 44000 square feet, so they need 4400 users to protect a single acre!)

1 tree nation invitation : Tree-Nation.com is a free online community which purpose is to plant trees to fight Climate Change. We receive the full support from the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP).

(A project partly sponsored by Unilever, Alcan, Chaumet, Nexus and other commercial interests in order to do a bit of cheap greenwashing)

1 wildlife reserve request : Rescue endangered animal babies, send them to friends for rescue, raise them in your own Wildlife Reserve and release them into the wild, or sending mating request to breed babies!
(Meanwhile, real habitats are being destroyed as you play – and WWF are also corporate hypocrites)

1 earthkeepers invitation : Plant virtual trees and share seeds with your friends. Each tree grown to adulthood will be planted in the real world to fight deforestation, desertification, and drought.

(Looks like a great way to spend your time – how about just planting some trees? Oh, and the whole application is just an advert for a Timberland boot.)

And now I’m really sick of these apps. The best thing you can do is block the applications as soon as they get to you, and if you really want to make a difference, get out there are do something in the real world.

Posted in General Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Sponsorship | 1 Comment »