The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Archive for June, 2010

Hands Across The Sand: A New Low In Symbolic Protest

Posted by keith on 24th June 2010

“I dreamed early on in the BP crime-event that The Gulf Gusher could NOT be stopped. I woke up shaking, sweating, my heart pounding. I knew this was information more than merely a dream…I think we have a hole in our heads when we talk about effective action, and we’ve got to think more seriously about what effective action is to stop the destruction of the only planet we have and need…”
(Roxanne Amico)

Yesterday, myself and probably thousands of other bloggers and activists received a press release from New York PIRG, explaining what they would be doing about the horrors of the Gulf, the ravenous appetite of the industrial world for oil, and the continued scorched-Earth policy that all governments pursue in the search for wealth and continued economic growth.

MEDIA ADVISORY – For immediate release

Lauren Schuster, NYPIRG Staff Attorney
347.729.4729, LSchuster@nypirg.org

HUNDREDS TO DEMAND AN END TO OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING AND AN IMMEDIATE TRANSITION TO CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY WILL HOLD “HANDS ACROSS THE SAND” AT BRIGHTON BEACH

On Saturday, June 26th, hundreds of students, volunteers and members of NYPIRG’s 1Sky New York Campaign will gather on the shore at Brighton Beach to demand an end to offshore drilling and an immediate transition to clean, renewable energy sources. The activists, standing in silence, will clasp hands along the shoreline, in a stunning visual display of solidarity. The Brighton Beach Hands Across the Sand event is part of a national campaign with hundreds of events taking place in almost every state in the country. For more information about the nation event, please visit: http://www.handsacrossthesand.com.

Who: Hundreds of volunteers and activists from the NYPIRG/1Sky NY Campaign
What: Hands Across the Sand at Brighton Beach
When: Saturday, June 26th at 12pm
Where: Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, NY
Visuals: Hundreds of volunteers clasping hands along the shore
Photos: Photos of the event will be made available for those who are unable to attend

This is part of a national (i.e. USA) event, currently being held in 26 states, which no doubt will be attended by hundreds of thousands of people who for some reason feel that forming chains of people across beaches will do the job, will make things all better again.

> What is the point of this, Lauren?

Keith

Hi,

Thanks for your question. The event is taking place in almost every state
in the country at the exact same time and we are standing together to show
solidarity with the Gulf Coast. We will send the message that we want an
end to offshore oil drilling and we want clean renewable, energy now. I
think that sums it up. If you have any other questions or would like more
information, please feel free to call or email. Thanks!

Warmest Wishes,

Lauren Schuster, Esq.
Staff Attorney
NYPIRG | The New York Public Interest Research Group
9 Murray Street | 3rd Floor | New York, N.Y. 10007
LSchuster@nypirg.org
p. 212.349.6460 | f. 212.349.1366

http://www.nypirg.org/enviro/1sky/

Thanks for replying, Lauren. I still don’t understand how this will actually change anything – who will get the “message” and what do you honestly except them to do with it?

Keith

Hi Keith,

That’s a fair question. So, we hope to and already have started attracting a fair amount of media attention, which is the first step. We are also collecting petition signatures at the event which demand comprehensive climate and clean energy solutions. We will deliver these petition signatures along with pictures of the event and a letter urging out leaders at every level of government to support climate and clean energy legislation next week. Hopefully, the force of hundreds of people from hundreds of organizations across the country doing this at the same time will demonstrate that we’re serious. Finally, bringing people together at an events like this makes everyone feel energized and engaged in the issue. We are going to need a lot of passionate people who are ready to help us move mountains to get climate and energy done. At the end of the day, it’s really about about bringing people together.

With that said, you should come out, see what it’s all about and then you can be involved with the follow up so you can see how a little hand holding can have a big difference.

Warmest Wishes,

Lauren Schuster, Esq.

I think the key word here is “hopefully” – which suggests that even the organisers give little chance of it actually achieving anything. Do you have any examples where such actions have created the kind of change you are asking for? I personally, cannot think of one. All successful actions I am aware of have involved some element of direct action, including sabotage and/or mass disobedience.

Best

Keith


(Cartoon courtesy of Code Green by Stephanie McMillan)

The dialogue continues below – please join in…

UPDATE: Just received this comment from Chandra (see below) who seems to have uncovered some interesting information about the founder of Hands Across The Sand, Dave Rauschkolb. I don’t have the resources to verify everything here, but if it is all true then the movement would seem to be walking on quicksand:

As for the mastermind behind this protest, Dave R., he’s recently announced to our local community that he has ordered the new Nissan Leaf to show his commitment to renewable energy. I once had a conversation with Dave about Peak Oil, of which he had never heard. That’s innocent enough, we were all there once. Dave has personally been invited to numerous sustainable forums over the last few years, of which I don’t recall him ever attending. He’s a very busy man. Dave is a three restaurant owner surf dude, who jet sets all over the world and has been known to indulge in poker excursions to Las Vegas. Dave lives in one of the most affluent developments in our county. I seriously doubt that Dave has evaluated any of his menus for sustainably acquired seafood, yet Dave claims to love the Gulf and care deeply for it’s inhabitants. Dave cut down a vital stand of old sand oaks from the dunes that were impeding the beach views from his latest restaurant endeavor. Dave is now regarded as a local hero and face of environmental stewardship and activism. Dave is planning yet another Hands Across the Sand event for next year. Be sure to get your T-shirt!

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Should Know Better, Symbolic Action | 9 Comments »

Just Some Handy Walmart Subvertising

Posted by keith on 21st June 2010

Someone sent me an email containing an article which, on first glance, appeared to be neatly undermining Walmart’s corporate line that the world’s biggest retailer is becoming “green”. It turns out that I read too much into the article, and they were actually praising Walmart and suggesting they were changing the way the global economy operates. Yeah, right!

Guess all the Far Eastern workers they screw, and the millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases they emit are starting to get a bit too public. Time to slap on the greenwash a bit more.

So, rather than republish the article, I will simply reproduce the graphic that was originally going to sit at the top. Use and enjoy to your heart’s content…

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Subvertising, Techno Fixes | No Comments »

Lockheed Martin’s Violent Definition of “Green”

Posted by keith on 16th June 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOCKHEED MARTIN ANNOUNCES NEW GREEN INITIATIVES FOR 140,000 EMPLOYEES, THEIR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

BETHESDA, Md. – Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) today announced new green initiatives to reach its 140,000 employees, their families and communities. The orchestrated effort is rolling out in conjunction with National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the largest organized environmental education event in the United States.

Held each year during the week before Earth Day, EE Week coordinates environmental education outreach nationwide to increase Earth Day’s impact. Lockheed Martin will celebrate EE Week and Earth Day by introducing several new company-wide employee initiatives to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior at work, at home and in local communities.

“At Lockheed Martin, it is our goal to raise awareness of natural resource conservation and to help our employees take an active role in their communities,” said Dr. David J.C. Constable, vice president, Lockheed Martin Energy, Environment, Safety & Health. “With the reach of our organization’s network, we have the opportunity to inspire hundreds of thousands of individuals – starting with our employees, their families and communities – so that as a corporation, we can make a big impact one small action at a time.”

A program of the National Environmental Education Foundation, EE Week reaches millions of students with environmentally-themed lessons and activities. In further support of EE Week, Lockheed Martin donated $5,000 to create the EE Week Nature Center Map, which includes contact information for more than 2,000 nature and environmental education centers nationwide, and is a perfect way for educators to find local natural areas for field trips and outdoor study.

“We’re grateful to Lockheed Martin for making National Environmental Education Week’s nature center map possible,” said Diane Wood, president, National Environmental Education Foundation. “Giving children unstructured time to explore nature benefits both their physical and mental health. This nature center finder enables families to find nearby outdoor space easily so they can explore nature and have fun learning about local plants and animals.”

Lockheed Martin’s employee-based initiative surrounding EE Week is just a portion of the corporation’s overall Go Green business strategy. Lockheed Martin is committed to reducing its overall energy usage by building and operating greener, more-efficient buildings, embarking on Green IT activities, constructing on-site renewable energy projects and purchasing renewable energy credits. The Corporation also ranks among the top 50 organizations in the country in green power purchases based on kilowatt hours of power used, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership. The Corporation’s long-term absolute goals through 2012 are to reduce carbon emissions, waste to landfill and water usage – each by 25 percent.

In addition to reducing its own environmental impact, Lockheed Martin is working with its customers in the areas of energy efficiency, management, next-generation alternative energy generation, and climate monitoring, Lockheed Martin provides a full range of energy solutions to the government and regulated industry, including the Department of Energy, state and regional energy organizations, utilities and businesses.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

###

For additional information, please visit: http://www.lockheedmartin.com

Media Contact: Matthew Swibel, 301-214-3178, matthew.swibel@lmco.com

When I received the above press release I realised it was beyond parody – I could have just posted it and left it at that; but then we moved house and the email was lost. Yesterday I discovered it again, and realised what needed to be done. The result of this you see below:

This is nothing more that the promotional video for Lockheed Martin’s “Going Green” initiative, interspersed with a range of Lockheed Martin’s own product videos, along with the Wikileaks Collateral Murder scene in which two children are severely injured in an Apache Helicopter attack in Iraq.

According to LM’s own website: “Arrowhead is the advanced electro-optical fire control system that Apache helicopter pilots use for safe flight in day, night, or bad weather missions.”

The link for the video is http://www.vimeo.com/12613450. Please distribute widely.

Posted in Campaigns, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Subvertising | 4 Comments »

Monthly Undermining Task, June 2010: It’s The Freeconomy, Stupid!

Posted by keith on 12th June 2010

“The only ‘honest’ living available to the homeless in general is scavenging – and in general they’re quite content to make that living. It’s work they can do without having an address, submitting to supervision, punching a clock, or maintaining a wardrobe of socially approved clothing – and it’s flex-time all the way.”
– Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization

I have to let you into a little secret – and I’m sure no-one will really mind, although in the short term at least there is understandably going to be a certain amount of resistance – about a dream I have. You might know that in April 2010 we moved to a village in southern Scotland to get some distance away from the hyper-consuming culture that dominates the area we had lived in as a family for many years. Two things transpired that we didn’t quite expect: first, that it was very easy to slip into a “village” mindset, whereby your entire life slows down and you need to change your opinion as to what you consider “essential” to life; second, that neither of us have found paid work, despite having long careers in our respective professions.

To most people reading this, the second thing would seem like a real problem, but it is counterbalanced – overriden in many ways – by two more things. The first of these is the result of the changed expectations that have manifested themselves so quickly: we haven’t been to the cinema or had a meal out as a family yet, nor have we suffered just because we can’t get precisely what we are looking for in the shops – we have, even more than we would have done in the “always available” culture, gone down all sorts of different avenues, or simply decided to forego what we might have previously had. The second counterbalance, is longer-term, but centres around the focus of this article: we are entering the Freeconomy.

This dream I have is evolving all the time, but the advert below should explain things quite well:

The key is not the computer work, but the words “Payment by barter or kind can be negotiated if you are a freeconomist.” In essence, I can repair your computer, and you can pay me money; alternatively, you can give me a bag of tomatoes, lettuce and radishes that you have grown yourself, for the amount of time and effort I would have had to invest in growing these things is probably the amount of time and effort you would have to invest in working out how to fix your own computer. I can do this easily, as you may be able to grow things more easily than me – I am growing things, but could always do with more local, fresh food – or you may be able to quickly fix the door in my house that is bowing very badly; or you might play the fiddle, and be able to give my daughter a lesson.

The variations on this are almost endless, as exemplified by this list from the Freeconomy web site, Just For The Love Of It:

Cleaner, Shiatsu Practitioner, Hedge Grower, Swimmer, Dancer, Beer Maker, Food Forager, Ecologist, Reverential Ecologist, Spiritual Seeker, Thinker, Hedge Maker, Yurt Constructor, Compost Toilet Constructor, Freecyclist, Research, Medicinal Plant Gatherer, Yoga Student, Feltmaker, Natural Dyer, Felt making, Plant Spirit Med. Practitioner

The holder of these skills lives just over 7 miles from us, according to the map – but I wonder what a directory of all the useful skills the people who live only 100 metres from us would look like…

An interesting side-effect of using the word “Freeconomist” on this advert, which I have put in the window of the local Post Office and hairdressers, and am also putting in the village newsletter, is the seed of an idea that might be planted in the minds of the people reading it: “That’s interesting, someone is prepared to accept something other than cash for work – I wonder if…” Already, there is is some Undermining going on here: the economic system we have been taught to believe is the only way that anyone can do business – in the loosest sense of the word – is being threatened, both physically and culturally, by the idea that there are other ways to do things that don’t involve money, and by extension, don’t involve the exploitation of humans and the wider environment.

Mark Boyle, author of “The Moneyless Man” puts it like this:

I feel the environmental movement has got it’s head in the sand over the money issue…I believe that as long as the degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed stay so wide, symptoms such as environmental destruction, sweatshop labour and factory farming will always exist, as people will remain as oblivious to the repercussions and consequences of what they consume as ever. Without money, you know the embodied energy and suffering that goes into all that you use. Until we face up to this fact, the symptoms will remain, because why would they change?

So what is this “Freeconomy” thing?

Essentially, it is a way of trading physical artefacts, skills and knowledge that doesn’t involve a symbolic intermediate stage, such as exchanging symbolic IOUs (cash), accruing interest (loans) or hoarding any type of representative currency.

Don’t be confused by writers who say Freeconomy is just “giving stuff away”: the big element missing from such a description is that Freeconomy does not fit into any conventional system of macro-economic behaviour – nothing is being accrued, there is no profit being made, there are no meaningful “economies of scale” beyond a few as opposed to one person making a job easier to manage. In actual fact, the label “Freeconomy” is a bit of a misnomer, for such a way of operating does have enormous intrinsic value, which is why we will probably have to think of a different name for it soon, or even more powerfully, just say, “This is how we live.”

There are many other labels for similar things operating at a variety of different scales or aspects of life: “localism”, “freeganism”, “slow food”, “self-sufficiency”, “resilient communities” and so on, and not all of them have the same value in achieving long-term, sustainable living; but all of them have some elements that, in one way or another, are undermining the destructive global economy, either directly, or by offering people a different way of thinking that doesn’t involve exploitation.

Whatever you call it, we can all do it to a certain extent – probably a greater extent than we realise. I offer below a short list of activities that can kick-start a Freeconomy wherever you happen to be, and perhaps deal a blow to the forces that claim, “If it don’t make a profit, it ain’t worth a bean.”

No Risk

The first stage on the path to Freeconomy is doing it yourself, rather than paying someone to do it for you. I explored this in an Earth Blog article some time ago:

Yesterday I took the children up to our neighbour’s house, and we filled up two wheelbarrows with logs – offcuts from their tree-surgery work. My brother-in-law also delivered some floorboards he had been asked to remove as part of his bathroom fitting work – they will make fantastic kindling. This year we may not have to use the gas-fired central heating at all: a little bit of pain for the gas company and the industrial machine, and a lot less pollution because the burning of logs in an efficient burner is a lot less polluting than my central heating.

Leaving my well-paid job to do full time environmental work was a step; learning to cook with just local, seasonal and dried produce was a step; starting to grow my own food was a step; switching off my central heating, after progressively turning it down further and further was a step; switching off the television and deciding to talk, play cards, read and just enjoy each other’s company was a step. But here’s an interesting thing: almost none of these steps will be featured in the countless lists you read in newspapers and magazines for “turning green” – they are all too big for the mainstream media, and even the mainstream environmental groups to propose to an “unwilling” public.

Aside from leaving my job, all of the other things I mention can be done by very many people with no pain. To someone indoctrinated in the necessity of money, these actions are selfish – you are apparently benefitting no-one but yourself and your immediate dependents; but to that I would ask the question: “What is the point of paying someone to do something for you, when you can do it yourself?” More pertinently, at what point was it deemed unacceptable for people to grow their own food, repair things, cook and bake from scratch, provide your own energy, and not rely on a network to provide your entertainment?

And then it gets even more subversive: you can start working with other people to share any excess; utilise each others’ skills and knowledge; provide support and company where it is needed…gradually the hooks the economic machine has dug into your flesh are eased out and thrown back. Not sure what other people need or what other people have that they can offer? Start talking; build communities within the place you live; share…

I came across a wonderful project recently: Aaron Newton had plotted his immediate neighbourhood, not by house price, crime rate or voting intention, but by the potential for community food growing:

I started by going across the street and asking my elderly neighbor if I could garden in her backyard. Then I recruited Eric who grows food in his backyard and is transitioning into a career as a farmer. Next I was able to start a garden in the backyard of the rental house next door to my property. It was part of a bartering arrangement whereby the landlord agreed to take down a few dying trees and in return I now grow food on her property. All of these active gardens are shown in dark green.

For many people, simply talking to neighbours is an alien concept – we have become ever more isolated as state and media-induced paranoia encroaches upon our psyches; everyone “out there” is a potential threat rather than a potential partner. Talking to your neighbours undermines this. And, of course, you don’t need to plot everything on a digital map – although that might be useful if you want to make the food sharing more organised; just keep a mental map of who is who and what you each have, then make sure you keep talking.

Referring back to my advert, someone noticed that I had an undue emphasis on Windows which, of course, is a commercial product. Windows is what I am best at (for shame!), but what Graham wrote below has encouraged me to suggest free alternatives to people:

It’s been said that future archaeologists will be able to identify a ‘Vista Upgrade Layer’ when they go through our landfill sites as thousands of tonnes of monitors, video cards and whole computers that are unable to run Microsoft’s latest operating system are being dumped as ‘obsolete’. So what better time to break out of the Windows’ ‘upgrade cycle’ by switching to Open Source alternatives such as Linux and taking back control of your computer? Ubuntu Linux for example is a completely free operating system in all senses of the word – that is, you can download and install it at no cost, and you are also at liberty to develop, modify and redistribute the source-code as you see fit. As well as being able to run on older computers, Ubuntu comes with pre-installed with many Open Source applications such web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, graphics and photo editing programs, etc, the proprietary equivalents of which such as Microsoft Office or Photoshop could cost hundreds of extra pounds to buy.

I made the change to Ubuntu about 2 years ago, after being introduced to it at a skills sharing and permaculture workshop event, and despite being in no way a ‘techie’, found it incredibly user-friendly and easy to get along with, and a refreshing change from my old Windows desktop that was constantly trying to get me to buy something or ‘upgrade’ this or that. However, there are many other ‘flavours’ of Linux including Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux that will even run on ancient 386 machines. Linux development tends to be community rather than corporate driven, thus is designed to meet the needs of users instead of big business. So as well as keeping otherwise obsolete computers out of the waste stream, the ethos of the Open Source software movement strikes me as being far more in accord with permaculture’s ethics and principles. Most Linux distributions can be run from ‘live’ CD’s, which means that you can try them out to see if they meet your needs before making any actual changes to your computer, so there’s nothing to lose in giving it a go!

And if that doesn’t make you want to consider Open Source software, perhaps this article will.

Low Risk

That last, small selection of ideas consisted of things that I would consider to be “No Risk”, and this is where it starts to get interesting – because I really want to categorise this next section in the same way; yet because we are all, to a certain extent, still dependent on money, the really positive things that come out of taking financial “risks” (in effect, creating negative risk) will undoubtedly cause some short-term pain.

Here’s one example: suppose you have a decently-paid job, but work long hours and genuinely haven’t the time to get involved in a community sharing scheme, or even growing some food so that you might swap things with your next-door neighbour. In order to gain that time back you have to work fewer hours, and thus take a wage cut. You could ask to work from home, thus cutting out travelling time, but few companies offer this option (though wouldn’t it be a real boon for so many workbound people to get back a part of their lives?) So, a time and wage cut it is. The immediate effect is relative financial hardship, regardless of your attitude to money.

Bridging the gap will be hard if you consider everything in your life to be essential; but think of it like this – how much of what you spend money on is the result of being urged to spend that money? When you have worked this out, then everything else is what is actually essential to you at the moment. If you don’t spend money on the “non-essentials” then I reckon your gap will disappear pretty quickly.

So now you have some time to use constructively, you can start being part of or even creating a community that shares things Just For The Love Of It. That could easily take up all of your time – the time you have left after perhaps spending more time with yourself, your family and your friends: your immediate community. If you feel comfortable working towards a moneyless community, without rocking the boat too much, then you have my wholehearted support: never think what you are doing is not entirely worthwhile, because what you are doing is far more human than living a life dependent on the industrial economy.

But you might want to do a bit of boat-rocking; perhaps bending the law, or kicking the money economy where it hurts. Some of the lower risk options were covered in a previous Monthly Undermining Task called “Throwing Off The Shackles of Debt“, and if you do have any debt, or would like to take the debt burden off others, then I recommend you start there.

Scattered around both urban and rural spaces are all sorts of food sources, in the form of fruit and nut-bearing trees, as well as other plant sources heaving with nutrition. There is a USA-only directly called Neighborhood Fruit which specialises in pointing out completely legal options; but going beyond this, there are often huge opportunities for scrumping in public parks and pseudo-private land where you just have to be a bit careful how much you take, and when you take it. The haul of apples below was from a local park, gathered in just over an hour:

Most of us have heard of “dumpster diving” and the Freegan movement – the simple act of taking disposed food from company skips is a grey area, hence why it is “Low Risk” – but how much other stuff is just left lying around, ready to be used in a constructive way? (N.B. This set of links, from the UK Freegans site is a wonderful source of Freeconomy related sites). Here is a list of things I have taken for subsequent use from public and not-so-public areas (avoid private homes, please, it’s just not fair) after a period of watching to make sure it wasn’t actively being used:

- Bark chippings from a country park
- Wooden pallets from a disused shop front
- Apricots from a pub car park tree
- Cast-off timbers from a construction site
- A wooden filing cabinet from a business skip

In effect, this is theft, so if you don’t want to do this yourself you could start a directory – as local or global as you like – of things that are simply waiting to be taken. It would need to be kept bang up to date, but could be a very useful addition to the money-free economy. I haven’t come across anything like this on my travels, but if you do know of an existing setup then please let me know.

Medium/High Risk

There is sometimes a fine line between recommending things that are borderline illegal, but which you could probably get away with, and things that you are almost certainly going to be arrested and charged for if you get caught. The following may not necessarily be illegal where you are but have to be approached with care, however positive the outcomes may be.

The single largest outgoing for most people is the cost of their home, whether in terms of mortgage or rental, or just the cost of running it and the various bills and taxes that enburden anyone who occupies a property – even one they have built themselves. Squatting is one option which, which not strictly an Undermining activity, can often be a vital way for people to get the financial freedom necessary to start a new kind of life. Opening up a squat for a number of people can be a very powerful statement, and trigger the creation of moneyless communities, but can also be risky both in terms of the law and personal safety. The Squatters Handbook is a vital resource and, while only covering English law, can undoubtedly be adapted to suit local conditions.

There is nothing new about squatting, and it is always worth reflecting on the story of The Diggers; a group of people in 17th century England who took it upon themselves to reclaim land they rightly believed had been stolen from the people. All they wanted to do was live, without having to be subservient to the systems of power and abuse. Take ten minutes to watch this film, and then another ten to think about what it means to you:

There is an increasing number of groups who have set up Intentional Communities, often under constant threat of eviction and other legal action being taken by those who purport to own the land upon which they are trying to live in a far more sustainable manner than the majority of people who live legally. The community web site known as “Diggers and Dreamers” takes its name from Gerrard Whinstanley’s brave band; and that is just one example, for there are all sorts of communities that are both highly sustainable (whether intentionally or not) and also removed from the industrial economic system to a great extent. The IC Wiki is the place to start if you want to take things to the next level.

Finally, something that is simple but a bit risky – again in a legal sense – but which could be wonderful if pulled off effectively. Retail companies exist to sell stuff for money – and the bigger the company, the more money they have made, and the more they have exploited people and the wider environment to make that money. So it makes you wonder what would happen if that model could be undermined, even for a short period: the company certainly wouldn’t change, but the people using the store or mall (think big!) might think again about what they are doing, spending wads of cash on things they don’t need, or often don’t need to pay for. What would happen, for instance, if under cover of darkness, someone were to affix a few signs proclaiming that everything was free? Not 10% or 20% off, but entirely free!

It would be bedlam, especially if someone had arranged at the same time to place an advert in a newspaper saying the very same thing. Can you imagine the impact of an advert in your local paper, saying that for one day only everything in one particular Walmart, Tesco or Carrefour was being given away for free.

Sometimes it’s worth spending a bit of money, just sometimes…

Posted in Advice, Monthly Undermining Tasks, Sabotage, Subvertising | 7 Comments »

What On Earth Are Timberland Talking About?

Posted by keith on 8th June 2010

What is it we make better?

It is our boots. Our shoes. Our clothing. Our gear. Out communities. Our environment. And our business practices. But once you put on our gear, it is the journey. It is getting from point A to point B. And onto point C. And D. and E. And on to wherever else your purpose leads you. It is your walk to work. Your hike up the summit. Your right turn. Your wrong turn. It is getting to the top of things and reaching higher. Getting to the bottom of things and digging deeper. It is doing more seeking than finding. And inspiring more action than words. It is thinking on your feet. Giving it all you’ve got. Being resourceful. Protective. And respectful of where you go and whom you meet along the way. And it is never a question of whether or not you will make it better, only what path you will choose.

(found on the inside of a Timberland shoebox)

Please send more examples of execrable corporate bollocks to news@unsuitablog.org

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | 3 Comments »

It’s a Gusher: Outrage Erupts at D.C. Green Groups’ Ties to BP (from WCP)

Posted by keith on 4th June 2010

This had to be republished, for it reinforces many of the things The Unsuitablog has been going on about for years now. As I said a short while ago, the reason I keep raising the hypocrisy of so-called “environmental” NGOs is because organisations like The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, WWF and Greenpeace are doing far more damage than good with their slavish adoration of the corporate world.

It has to end, and it will be ordinary people, like us, that do it.

WaPo’s story yesterday about the cozy ties between BP and the nation’s leading environmental groups has let loose a deluge of angry comments from members of the Arlington-based Nature Conservancy and other groups that have taken millions of dollars from the disgraced oil giant.

Here’s a good one from Cindy D., a Nature Conservancy member who last night accused the organization of censoring comments to its blog: “Why are my comments not being posted? Are the moderators afraid to leave up criticism of NC? I notice that my posts and those of others who are critical of NC have been removed. Even more reason to revoke my membership. Oh, and remember, you don’t moderate the world; there are plenty of other venues in which to expose your hypocrisy.”

You can read more of the e-wrangling between the group’s executives and its members here (provided these comments have not been similarly erased).

The British oil conglomerate has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade to transform its image from that of a dirty old oil company into “Beyond Petroleum” – a company so environmentally friendly it had transcended oil drilling (and spilling) for happy, sunny and clean technologies such as wind and solar. Never mind that the so-called “renewables” never received anywhere near as much investment as the company puts into exploring for and extracting oil and gas.

Most of the money went to the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide but, as the Post’s Joe Stephens points out, the oil giant has shelled out to prominent environmental groups – including several headquartered in the D.C. area. The Nature Conservancy has received nearly $10 million from the company. Crystal City-based Conservation International has received millions more and even gave BP chief executive John Browne a seat on its board from 2000 to 2006. (Browne relinquished his seat about the time a sex scandal ended his reign at BP.) And, the company has had dealings with the Sierra Club, Audubon, Environmental Defense Fund, among others.

While it may seem incongruous to their mission, the environmentalists haven’t tried to hide the corporate dough. They have, in fact, trumpeted their ties to corporations, arguing that these partnerships lead to better corporate environmental policies and less damage to the planet.

So it’s understandable that BP’s latest environmental debacle does not look good for its environmentalist friends – many of whom have been partnering with the company for a decade or more.

For BP, it’s been a decade replete with felony charges, criminal fines and consent decrees with various federal agencies. The Department of Justice ordered BP to pay $70 million in criminal fines and restitution to settle felony charges related to an pipeline leak on Alaska’s North Slope and an explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery that left 15 dead. And that ’s just a partial recap of BP’s various run-ins with the feds.

The unraveling of BP’s “green” marketing efforts would almost seem comical – perhaps poetic justice – if the accident wasn’t wreaking so much havoc in the Gulf of Mexico. By some estimates, it’s already gushed more petroleum than the Exxon Valdez. But much has changed in corporate-environmentalist relations in the 21 years since the Valdez hit a reef and spilled more than 10 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

The most telling quote in Stephens’ story is from Justin Ward, a Conservation International vice president: “Reputational risk is on our minds,” says Ward, eluding to the risk that people may lose all faith in environmental groups that get too close to corporate polluters.

Well, duh! But the interesting thing is the way Ward expressed the growing angst at the conservation group. The term “reputational risk” is a buzzword of companies like BP that have given lavishly to nonprofit organizations as part of their quest to be seen as (but not necessarily to become) “socially responsible” corporations.

It kinda makes you wonder if the environmentalists have been influencing the corporations or if it’s the other way around.

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