The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

New York Overnight: Why The Hell Bother!

Posted by keith on September 18th, 2008

New York Overnight Is A Waste

I’ve been getting some really transparent, awfully sad examples of greenwash lately, which suggests that the bandwagon is full and those that didn’t jump on in time are running after it in desperation. The big boys like BP, Ford, Exxon and DuPont have greenwashing off to a fine art, which is why articles like How To Spot Greenwash are so popular – people suspect and just want to check.

On the other hand, it’s very amusing to see the pathetic examples I’m sent, if only because it gives me a chance to knock their press release back into their faces with interest. Here’s a really awful one I got only today…


New Transcontinental Package Service Pledges Carbon Offsets;

Outperforms Majors on Price, Offers LATE Pickups

Los Angeles, CA, September 17th, 2008 — New York Overnight today announces a new green shipping service!! Entertainment and production industry moguls have always enjoyed the best airline service from Los Angeles to New York. However, these valuable customers’ overnight deliveries still get the same old treatment from traditional shippers such as FedEx and UPS while their fuel surcharges have gone sky-high. A new yet experienced player promises to change the landscape of overnight delivery: New York Overnight. New York Overnight combines value, convenience and–in a first for the industry-a greener footprint as well with carbon-neutral, 100% offset emissions.

New York Overnight, through an agreement with industry-leading Climate Clean, whose clients include Nike, Veev and the Environmental Media Association [must look them up – Ed.], is now offsetting 100% of the emissions for its Los Angeles-New York to Los Angeles shipments.

Of course, overnight shipping with a conscience doesn’t come cheap. It comes cheaper–MUCH cheaper. In fact, a one-pound package shipped from Los Angeles to New York via New York Overnight cost only $14.21 while FedEx charges $42.31 (with a 20% discount) and UPS charges $43.66 (with a 20% discount). That’s a 67% savings over its two biggest competitors. Further, New York Overnight will guarantee their Los Angeles-New York prices for at least one year.

Finally, while other shippers’ customers engage in the daily scramble to make deadlines, or worse, make it to the airport, New York Overnight makes office pickups as late as 7:00PM.

“We’re pleased to enhance our service offering with carbon neutrality,” says New York Overnight founder, Inna Waary. “Our clients in the entertainment, banking, apparel and pharmaceuticals industries have long relied on us. We’ve built a reputation for quality, service value and above all, complete reliability. Now we can offer a little something extra-a contribution to our future. That doesn’t come overnight-it comes over a lifetime.”

Hilary Morse * PMG
8265 Sunset, Suite 106 * Los Angeles CA 90046
W) 323 337 9042 * C) 310 717 9592

My response was short and to the point…

Alternatively, Hilary, you could just stop being in one of the most polluting industries in the world that has built up expectations of the possibility of ultra-quick delivery and ended up having no alternative but to offset (for all the good that is). If Americans didn’t expect to be able to get goods from one side of the country to another overnight then they would be able to use overland transport – preferably rail, a mode of transport that has been killed off by the air industry. As it is, you are trying to greenwash us with something that isn’t even necessary to greenwash; just do it a different way.

Thanks for the information, this will go down very well on The Unsuitablog, an anti-greenwashing site that I operate.

Keith Farnish

As we all know, offsetting was only invented to allow the consumer culture to carry on as normal, with less guilt. Of course, the lack of guilt is an illusion – like everything else in the Culture Of Maximum Harm – you should feel guilty if you want to get a parcel from LA to New York overnight! They are not talking about replacement kidneys here, they are talking about DVDs, sneakers, advertising proofs and all that really important (ha!) stuff.

Get a grip people!

6 Responses to “New York Overnight: Why The Hell Bother!”

  1. JB Says:

    Actually, Keith, in this economic climate, air transport (and especially expedited air service) is losing quite a bit of business to shipping via rail and sea.

  2. keith Says:

    That’s quite comforting JB. Maybe the JIT economy is ending and people are going to be more patient: good things come to those who wait :-)

  3. Henry Eshelman Says:

    Dear Keith,

    I own the PR company that sent you this release, and I wrote it. Most of the time, I could care less what people think of what we do; I have a pretty well developed sense of integrity and we pitch with conviction and honesty. I’m compelled to reply to this old-school flame (albeit a little late) because your post is both so shrill and snide AND gleeful and self satisfied. It reminds me of John McCain saying, “we have Obama right where we want him.” And though it’s probably not promising to try and reason with you, I will suggest you’ll do your cause more good with evolutionary rather than revolutionary change. You may as well as try and get the 1+ billion Chinese BACK on their bicycles after they’ve discovered automobiles–whether electric, hybrid or gas powered.

    As someone who grew up on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, I share your interest in and romance of rail transportation, as well as its vast efficiency over air or truck. Rail can transport a ton of goods something like 425 miles on a gallon of fuel. I wish a ride on public transport to my office–a distance of 11 miles–didn’t take 90 minutes. A bicycle’s out as there’s probably a 750-foot change in grade. If you think that makes me a weakling, unwilling to step up, well, there, you can have it.

    However, the paradigm shift you suggest to people (well, you cudgel them with it) will, based on the last 150 years of human history, be impossible to effect. Man has been preoccupied with moving information rather than goods rapidly since the days of the pony express. In the early 1900’s, the greatest promise of air travel wasn’t to move people; it was to move…mail–packages. It was more profitable than transporting people; it still probably is.

    Specifically: as to offsets, they are indeed the plenary indulgence of the enviro movement. Those that cannot conserve (or reorder), offset. But is that not better than to suggest people simply stop trying to move goods by air? I don’t know how you live, but do you have a composting toilet or bathe in grey water? And if you do, God bless. Don’t you own an automobile? I know I couldn’t do that, but I’ve been able to reduce energy consumption in my household probably 20% through some pretty simple and frankly painless measures. Are those incremental steps, on a large scale, not a step in the right direction? And as for my shipper, why disincentivize his small, modest effort? Richard Branson is planning to offset his airline’s total fuel cost. Air New Zealand has realized remarkable fuel savings by simply changing flight paths. Do you have only brickbats for them too?

    What I am sure of is that you don’t certainly convince me that you’ve “thrown it back in our faces with interest.” I don’t feel chastened; I feel lectured to and it’s demotivating. It’s sort of like yelling at the guy that threw a dollar in the homeless person’s cup “What an asshole! Why didn’t you give him all your clothes?”

  4. keith Says:

    “Man has been preoccupied with moving information rather than goods rapidly since the days of the pony express. In the early 1900’s, the greatest promise of air travel wasn’t to move people; it was to move…mail–packages. It was more profitable than transporting people; it still probably is.”

    And there, Henry, you hit the nail right on the head: the question is not “How do we do it?” but “Why do we do it?” and the answer to the latter is, “Because it makes money.” That has been the answer since civilization first reared its head.

    There is a vast gulf between us, that is absolutely true: you think that offsetting something that is inherently unsalvageable as ever being sustainable in any way is acceptable; I note when something is unsalvageable and refuse to accept it as being potentially sustainable. From that position, your statement “But is that not better than to suggest people simply stop trying to move goods by air?” can be answered with a resounding “No!”

    My life is documented from time to time on The Sietch, e.g:

    And so on. I’m not perfect, but I’m rapidly moving towards a better place.

    I have brickbats for Branson, in fact I’m probably going to be first on his hitlist if he decides to take out his critics: I’ve been quoted in the New Yorker criticising him ;-)

    As for the homeless person: the dollar may help, it may not, but that doesn’t make the donor a hypocrite. Have a look at your original press release — bearing in mind it was *your* company who asked *me* to publicise the information — and you might begin to understand that it was dripping with the residue of a good greenwash.



  5. Henry Eshelman Says:

    Hey, thanks for the measured response.

    I am grateful for the entire spectrum of human condition and sure, we’ll agree to disagree on the desire to balance incremental with revolutionary change. I don’t think it’s hypocritical to make the small steps that you call greenwash because I’d rather some little effort be made than none at all. And frankly all means must be applied and then some–profit motive, cool factor, etc.–to change people’s practices in any meaningful way. But I’d never discourage them. I may not agree with you, but I applaud your steps to effect a paradigm shift. I worked for Best Friends Animal Society and they wanted to promote the mantra “no more homeless pets.” Well, six or seven years later, shelters are starting to alter their practices, both from a practical as well as humanitarian standpoint. But they didn’t just wilt when they got the first press release.

    I read a few of your blogs and of course I started with the one entitled “poo.” I mean where else? I was just pleased it was of the animal and not human variety. The BP thing is a scream; I’ve done work for them too but I’ve certainly no guilt laughing and that pretty transparent piece of BS. Since I grew up in the US East Coast, I was astonished when I moved to the desert that people swept with water and not rakes or brooms.

    In closing, I hope we’ll part as colleagues of sorts along someday converging paths and I do admire the true believers and practitioners, so by all means carry on! I will follow your efforts with interest.



  6. keith Says:

    Converging colleagues – yeah, I can live with that :-)

    Best wishes


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