The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Hello Green Tomorrow: Avon Conveniently Forget Their Ingredients

Posted by keith on July 30th, 2010

Hello Green Tomorrow Avon logo

Sitting in my inbox for four months, one would expect a story to go stale, but despite coming at a particularly hectic time of my life, and being revisited just this morning, it seems that some stories are destined to keep going simply because the parties involved are in such deep denial. One such story is that of the cosmetics giant Avon, long-time vivisectionists, and brainwasher of millions of civilised housewives into thinking that their lives could be inestimably better if only they slapped some chemicals on their face, are running a campaign known as “Hello Green Tomorrow”.

The press release went like this:

Avon Hello Green Tomorrow

Avon Products, Inc. has launched Hello Green Tomorrow, a unique global grassroots mobilization in over 65 countries worldwide. The first goal of this environmental movement is to restore trees in the Atlantic Rainforest, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Avon started the campaign by donating $1 million to replant 1 million trees in this critically-endangered region.

a.. With just $1 per tree, you can join this unique global mobilization and help save the Atlantic Rainforest for today and for the next generation.
b.. You and your readers can join our environmental movement by visiting hellogreentomorrow.com, our Hello Green Facebook Tab, and following conversations on Twitter, using the #hellogreentomorrow hashtag.
c.. Imagine breathing with only seven percent of your lungs. The Atlantic Rainforest in South America helps serve as the “lungs of the earth,” but only seven percent remains, making it one of the world’s most critically endangered ecosystems. This is important to all of us, wherever we live.
d.. As the “lungs of the earth”, tropical forests such as the Atlantic Rainforest are vital to our survival. Rainforests help reduce pollution, mitigate climate change, and support a vast array of wildlife, including many species found nowhere else. Already 93% of the Atlantic Rainforest has been destroyed, but with just one dollar, you can help us restore it.

So, let’s just assume that Avon genuinely want to protect and even restore the Atlantic Rainforest, and the “Hello Green Tomorrow” campaign will play a major part in this important effort; they are claiming, as I write, to have planted 2 million trees using donations from people visiting the website. These trees are being managed by The Nature Conservancy, a major friend of corporations, and the project is endorsed by UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign, a project that is so fraught with corporate corruption that it shames the whole of the United Nations Environment Programme simply by virtue of its catalogue of ecocidal corporate partners.

So far, so bad.

The press release wasn’t sent in isolation, though. Here is the rest of it…

From: Jennifer Duval
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 7:13 PM
To: keith@theearthblog.org
Subject: Avon Launches Hello Green Tomorrow: $1 Plants a Tree in the South American Atlantic Rainforest

Hi,

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Wanted to keep you abreast of Avon’s inspiring cause initiative helping to create a greener tomorrow. Avon’s Hello Green Tomorrow campaign empowers your readers to make real changes by supporting the endangered Atlantic rainforest. I have provided details on the initiative below, and would be happy to send more information your way!

[press release]

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Jen


Jennifer C. Duval

Attention!
411 Lafayette Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003

I thought I’d try a trick I learnt in the days when I used to negotiate contracts – when asking a difficult question, also make a point that would immediately put the subject on the back foot, and thus be more forthcoming.

Dear Jennifer

Could you please tell me if Avon use palm oil in any of their products?

Thank you

Keith

P.S. I am not Irish, why would I be interested in St Patrick’s day?

That sort of worked; Jennifer passed the query on to, presumably, her superior, who responded:

Hi Keith,

I hope this finds you well. Hello Green Tomorrow is a cause initiative to help rebuild the Atlantic Rainforest – there is no product tie-in. Sorry if you found the St. Patty’s reference to be offensive.

Hope this clears things up. Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Best,
Ruth
________________
Ruth E. Kallens
Attention
411 Lafayette Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10003
M: 908.433.2183
F: 212.625.1300
rkallens@attentionusa.com
www.attentionusa.com

No product tie in! What about the Avon brand being splattered all over the press release? I get the feeling that there is some issue with showing the dissonance between Avon’s use of palm oil and their apparent concern for the Atlantic Rainforest. Could it be that this is greenwashing?

Hi Ruth

You cannot separate the initiative from the sponsor – not only are Avon involved in this, they founded Hello Green Tomorrow, so any hypocrisy lies squarely on their doorstep. It appears that HGT is being advertised as a “grassroots” campaign (http://shop.avon.com/shop/assets/images/landing/hgt_faq_en.pdf) even though it is clearly an “astroturf” (a corporation masquarading as grassroots – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing)

If it turns out that palm oil is used in Avon products then that will be disastrous for Avon’s public image, given that there is no such thing as sustainable palm oil, and that the production of palm oil is the fastest growing cause of tropical deforestation on the planet.

Yes, it appears Avon do use palm oil: http://www.avon.com/1/1/512-mark-dew-drenched-moisturlicious-lip-color.html

“contains shea butter and palm oil to help moisturize and protect”.

Gosh, rainforest destruction so lips can be kept nice and moist!

And here are another 392 products*: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22palm+oil%22+site%3Aavon.com

This is not going to look good for Avon if this gets out.

Best

Keith

And now it is out.

—-

*at the time of writing this was 153, suggesting that someone has been carefully re-editing ingredients pages.

8 Responses to “Hello Green Tomorrow: Avon Conveniently Forget Their Ingredients”

  1. Danika Carter Says:

    I think you may be my new hero! Avon is the WORST pinkwasher and now their adding greenwashing to their arsenal of manipulative marketing. They are beyond evil!

  2. keith Says:

    Thanks you, Danika – it’s my pleasure to expose greenwashers, especially those who exploit particular sectors of society to make huge profits.

    “Avon calling!”

    “Do you really like being the puppet of a corporation?”

  3. Greenwash Of The Week: Avon's Palm Oil And A Rainforest Charity. | The Good Human Says:

    [...] on over to The Unsuitablog to read all the emails back and forth and more of Keith’s dissection – you won’t [...]

  4. Holly Says:

    Good for you!

    I found THIS part especially terrifying: “*at the time of writing this was 153, suggesting that someone has been carefully re-editing ingredients pages.”

    Because clearly they’re not re-working ingredients, but rather doctoring ingredient LISTS. So what else are they putting in products that we don’t know about?

  5. Dragana Says:

    Dear Keith,

    I really appreciate your work in exposing greenwashing! I think you are doing a great thing.
    However, I don’t understand why it is necessary to send rude and threatening emails?
    Sometimes companies do “greenwashing” because they simply lack knowledge on how to do things in the right way.
    What do you think about working with companies to do thing right, instead of fighting against them?

    All the best!

  6. keith Says:

    Dear Dragana

    I don’t think anything of working with companies, because their motive is to make money, not to help people or the planet in general. In order for Avon, for instance, to be beneficial the only thing they can do is cease trading. Rudeness is a relative thing (I am *never* threatening, please read the emails carefully) – I find industrial slavery and ecocide to be terribly rude; a few words is nothing compared to the collective, and destructive actions of PR companies.

    Cheers, Keith.

  7. Dragana Says:

    Dear Keith,
    Thanks for answering! When I said threatening I was referring to “This is not going to look good for Avon if this gets out.”
    Anyways, I just wanted to share my opinion. I dont think that all companies are “bad” although I agree with you, their main motive is to make money but we don’t have to be so strict! I know a lot of cases when companies do greenwashing and was not aware of that at all! Although I don’t claim that this is the case here. Personally I think that campaigns of working together with private sector (such as for example in WWF GFTN) could also be a solution. Don’t you think?
    Regards, Dragana

  8. Dragana Says:

    Dear Keith,
    It’s me again. It seems Avon start taking some steps towards sustainability:http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2011/08/26/avons-4-steps-conducting-business-higher-purpose?utm_source=GreenBuzz&utm_campaign=ba13c8f0be-GreenBuzz-2011-08-26&utm_medium=email

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