The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Friends of the Earth, iPods and The Competition That Killed a Charity

Posted by keith on February 5th, 2011

It was a windy Thursday evening at the beginning of 2011. An office in north London buzzed with anticipation at the launch of something exciting; something that would appeal to a new breed of eco-conscious consumers who want that extra something to keep them feeling good about their fast-pased, technology filled lives. The team responsible felt confident that this was a good move in raising the profile of an organisation that for a few years had been chugging along the same well-worn path, each move forwards barely perceptible in the bigger scheme of things.

A few clicks later and the new page was live. A little later, to the west and little south of this office another few clicks and a press release was moving like a flock of electric pigeons toward the in boxes of the mainstream press, a perfect digital partner for the web page.


February 4, 2011 —
Ethical shopping is easier than ever now that The Ethical Company Organisation’s best selling The Good Shopping Guide is available as a mobile phone app . And in today’s financial tough times, consumers will be pleased to know that switching to a more ethical product choice often comes with no price premium.

Publically launched today (Fri 4th February 2011), the latest ethical shopping advice is just a button push away on your iPhone, iTouch and iPad – and at only £2.99 its kind on your pocket as well as the planet. 10% of net revenue will go to green campaigning charity Friends of the Earth. The app is available to download from iTunes (

The Good Shopping Guide Ethical Shopping App is the first ethical shopping app on the UK market to give the user the ability to make clear comparisons with other brands within each product sector. Choosing, for example, the most ethical cup of tea or bottled water has never been easier.

• Over 700 famous brands are ranked in 72 product-specific league tables under the 7 main sections of Food & Drink, Health & Beauty, Travel, Energy, Fashion, Home & Office and Money
• Easy-view summary table shows ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ brands in relation to the environment, human rights and animal welfare within each product category
• Detailed research tables for 72 product-specific categories across 15 different ethical criteria
• Ethical Company Index scores give an overall ‘ethical rating’ to easily identify the best performing brands/companies
• In-depth editorial support, giving information on the ethical issues involved in each product

William Sankey, Director of The Ethical Company Organisation said:
”Ethical shopping has never been so easy, in store or online. Our readers asked us to develop a comprehensive comparison tool they could take into the shops and our mobile app does just that.

”We could only have dreamed of such a neat mobile tool when we printed the first (painfully heavy) 350 page The Good Shopping Guide reference book a decade or so ago. Companies’ ethical records have never been so easy to access for millions of concerned consumers.”

Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director, said:
“Despite the recession more and more people want products and services that don’t trash the planet – but don’t have much time to investigate the best options.

“The new app provides quick and reliable advice when you’re out and about – and helps raise vital funds for Friends of the Earth work to ensure a thriving environment for everyone.”

Life would never be the same again for the people in the north London office. The connection was made between the App, the gadget and the environmental NGO. While The Good Shopping Guide made its usual symbolic stab at breaching the interminable void between consumption and sustainability, Friends of the Earth made an entirely unsymbolic stab at the ground that would contain their own grave.

An “environmental” NGO accepting money off the back of sales driven by the purchase of entirely unsustainable iPods and iPhones – the very same gadgets produced in polluting factories more accurately described as Slave Farms. An “environmental” NGO promoting this commercial partnership by way of a competition offering one of those gadgets; somehow imagining that we would all be ignorant to this abject hypocrisy.

Friends of the Earth, 1970-2011
Locally grown flowers only.

10 Responses to “Friends of the Earth, iPods and The Competition That Killed a Charity”

  1. H Says:

    “Choosing, for example, the most ethical cup of tea or bottled water has never been easier”

    Is that for real?

  2. keith Says:

    Oh yes!

  3. Jenny Says:

    Well, buying from more ethical companies is slightly better than buying from less ethical companies like Bono’s done with RED company. Not everyone can live in the Scottish highlands like you, you know. Ironic as it seems, having the ability to quit modern life and live primitively takes a bit of class/race privilege. Lots of people still actually need the jobs you rail against and here in the U.S., actual organic food is fucking expensive and need I even mention Monsanto and corporate farmers blurring the line between organic and corporate?

  4. keith Says:

    Hi Jenny

    You really seem to have taken issue with this – are you defending technological civilization, FoE or your own unwillingness to change? And before you scream “ad hominem” at me – I’d like to know what me living in the “Scottish Highlands” (I live nowhere near) and living primitively (I don’t) has to do with Friends of the Earth promoting iPods?

    No, you don’t need to mention Monsanto or the relative price of organic vs inorganic food: they are both inevitable symptoms of the industrial system.


  5. Paul Kingsnorth Says:

    I know this is off-topic, but this sentence ought to be challenged:

    ‘having the ability to quit modern life and live primitively takes a bit of class/race privilege.’

    With respect, this is drivel. It’s a line thought up and expounded, successfully, by anti-environmentlists for years. Virtually everyone I know who has ever dropped out, moved into a caravan or bothy, built a low-impact home, lived in a treehouse or simply opted out of the system, as far as that’s ever possible, has had very little money or ‘class/race privilege.’ Quite the opposite: thos at the top of the pile are very unlikely, with a few exceptions, to want to jump off it.

    More often than not this line is simply used as an excuse by people who want to demonstrate that it’s impossible to live anywhere but inside the Machine. Disappointing.

  6. keith Says:

    Not off-topic at all, Paul. Glad to have your input.

  7. Jenny Says:

    Keith: Must of misread about the location, sorry. As for the primitive bit, I meant the stuff in your blog about the barter system and the like. That said, again, I must disagree on the idea that dropping out is easy:

    I do care about the environment, but I think we can improve with public transportation and the like. Sorry, I still like Greenpeace’s idea for an energy conservation city.

  8. steve Says:

    This is still straying a bit off topic but as Paul says, it is not dependant on class or money in order to drop out. Some people have no other option other than to “drop out” or as i prefer, “go under the radar”. I know plenty of folk who live in vans, trucks, caravans (thats me)because their financial circumstances permit nothing else and they do not want to be tied to a state structure (other than what is unavoidable)by relying on so called benefits. Those with a financial cushion find it harder to to do this because they are so tied into the system, very often by choice. Others, like myself, chose to cut down to the bone my living expenses and thus freeing up more time not to work. Its not for everyone of course but to put obstacles in the way of doing something that you rail against just highlights the fact how much investment you have in the systems continuation (emotional, fear, financial etc).

  9. Juliano Says:

    Has anyone also mentioned the possible dangers of all this technology? Ie., So much is being thrown at us by this corrupted corporate world with its poisonous skull and bones flagged pirate ship sailing havok around destroying everything–it is freaking hard to keep UP! But we must do. Deal with what we can at the time. And one of the importat issues is the possible dangers of wireless radiation can have, especially on our children!
    Alsoready there has been a recent study done showing the increase of cancer in the modern world since the Industrial Revolution. So hmmm do you think the profiteers give a damn about the possibility of yet more hazardous effects from their ‘progress’…..well?
    So anyhow I want to bring attantion top readers here this essay, Wireless Mind, Gullible Mind

  10. 2011 | The Race to the Bottom Accelerates | Politics & Policy Says:

    […]  Courtesy of Keith Farnish’s Unsuitablog […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.