The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

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Jordanian Cultural Heritage Enriched by Sustainable Star Trek Resort

Posted by keith on 25th October 2011

There is part of me wanting this to be a spoof, but most of me knows it’s real. I’m talking about the latest hair-brained scheme to tempt the mindless tourist into spending cash, in this case in the state of Jordan.

Hi Keith,

Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park is an engineering challenge in and of itself: both are traditionally water- and energy-intensive. But in Jordan, where only 10 inches of rain fall per year and energy and water security is always tenuous, achieving as much self-sufficiency as possible is a necessity.

That’s why -as you may have heard-the $1.5 billion dollar Star Trek-themed Red Sea Astrarium in Jordan is being built with on-site renewable energy production facilities, integrated grey water and solid waste management systems, and numerous other cutting edge efficiency measures.

The reduction of the potable water use of the resort buildings alone will save 57.6 million gallons per year (as compared to business as usual). That’s enough water to serve the annual drinking needs of 303,000 people.

If you’re interested, I’d like to connect you with the engineers from Arup that developed the design, for a peek behind the curtain and a frank discussion about the nuts and bolts of the project.

Arup’s plans will:
- reduce water and energy usage by up to 20%,
- reduce resort cooling demand by up to 19%, and
- allow the Astrarium to produce 15 to 20% of its energy from on-site using renewables.

Any interest?

Best,
Courtney
chamilton@groupsjr.com

You can learn more about the Red Sea Astrarium here: http://www.arup.com/Projects/Red_Sea_Astrarium.aspx

Clearly Courtney is just a hired drone who takes no interest in her copy otherwise, in the name of all that is holy, she would have realised what an unwittingly hilarious piece of greenwashing PR bilge this is. You only need to try and digest the phrase “Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park” to realise that. The obvious response is: “So why build the fucking thing in the first place?!”

But I am more polite than that:

This is a joke, yes? A “sustainable” luxury report and theme park that is completely superfluous and about as relevant to the Jordanian culture as building a copy of the Great Wall of China in New York – that’s hilarious. Well done.

Keith

No response, and how rude is that? There are three forces at work here – not in preventing a response, you understand, I’m not paranoid – in making such a concept possible in the first place:

1) A nation or corporation that promises to pay a nation, so desperate for money that they will stoop to such incredible depths to make a project like this happen. According to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal:

“Despite the absence of any significant natural resources, Jordan has succeeded in attracting foreign investments through economic reforms and has demonstrated solid economic growth rates, while the government has gradually been implementing policies to improve competition and to foster transparency. The need for such policies have gained strength under the circumstances that Jordan has witnessed and which are strongly related to the public uprisings that have swept the Arabic region since early 2011. Public dissatisfaction with government policies and the rule of law has mobilised the King and the government to initiate reforms to improve the political, economic and social climate of the country.”

Which obviously includes attracting as many tourists as possible regardless of the cultural, social and environmental implications of implementing a straight-down-the-middle capitalist attitude. The announcement of the project was made in May 2011:

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), a diversified global entertainment organization producing innovative digital animated content and location-based attractions, will design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a 184-acre themed entertainment resort located in Aqaba, Jordan, which, through a license from CBS Consumer Products, will prominently feature an amazing attraction inspired by the 2009 international hit motion picture, Star Trek. The “Star Trek” attraction is being creatively developed by Paramount Recreation.

That announcement was made today by Randa S. Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding, at the Jordanian-American Business Forum, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a special signing ceremony attended by business leaders from Jordan and the United States.

2) An engineering company determined to prove its “green” credentials, despite being a major provider of oil and gas infrastructure, aviation services, mining infrastructure and massive commercial developments. Arup are all this and far more; and as such gloss over their activities with a thick layer of greenwash, everywhere you look. The Astrarium is no exception:

The Red Sea Astrarium (Astrarium) represents an opportunity to demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to innovation and sustainable development. Resort developments, particularly those that target a global audience, increasingly reflect the global interest in sustainable development. The Astrarium will be at the forefront of sustainable resort development by implementing Arup’s infrastructure recommendations.

The Astrarium is a planned 184 acre entertainment resort and virtual reality theme park showcasing the rich cultural history and future of Jordan and the Middle East. Situated on a soaring plateau close to the Port City of Aqaba, the park includes four hotels, an entertainment district, a man-made saltwater lagoon, and two waterfront areas, one anchored by a ‘Star Trek’ themed attraction.

Brought in to provide infrastructure planning and design of the development’s energy, water, wastewater, solid waste, mobility and logistical management systems, the Astrarium presented a number of challenges to the Arup team. Located 200 metres above sea level in the mountains bordering the Red Sea, the site has no natural source of potable water thanks to the region’s arid climate while the development itself will have a substantial energy demand due to the array of attractions and amenities.

Words and thoughts consistently fail me with every sentence of this remarkable piece of rhetorical bullshit. One thing it does wrap up nicely is that there is NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

3) A PR company so willing to bend over and take whatever any corporation cares to shove in their direction that they will deliver, en masse, complete lies in order to make a fast buck.

Anyone wishing to undermine any of these three forces has my complete blessing; if you have any success let me know, I would love to see this all come toppling down.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by keith on 5th February 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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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 (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-good-shopping-guide-ethical/id416083134?mt=8).

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
RIP
Locally grown flowers only.

Posted in NGO Hypocrisy, Promotions, Should Know Better | 10 Comments »

IBM Financing Greenwash: 2 PCs Better Than 1?

Posted by keith on 23rd September 2010

This gem of a corporate sales pitch was sent to me by an Unsuitablog reader, which somehow turns replacing a computer twice as often as normal into a green decision. The main problem with corporate attempts to be green is that they come from corporations, and corporations exist to make profit for shareholders, so therefore can never be green: that comes across vibrantly in the document, which manages to combine bring profitable with being green so elegantly that it takes a second read before you realise that the sales pitch is not green at all. The only combination of elements is (1) saving money for the customer and (2) making sure the customer doesn’t get their arse kicked by the authorities.

Parting with your old PCs is fraught with peril. Choose the wrong disposal process and you may be criticised as an ‘enemy of the environment’. Not so great on the conscience, nor good for your company’s public relations. According to research from IDC, Gartner and the National SafetyC ouncil, there will be some one billion computers dumped around the worldwithin the next two years. And when you realise that a single computermonitor may contain up to eight pounds of lead, you begin to see the need for responsible disposal methods.

Imagine being able to improve your bottom line, while your company plays its part as a responsible corporate citizen to mitigate this looming pollution problem.

Don’t worry about disposing of your retired PCs

The proper disposal of retired PCs has become a critical business and environmental issue, yet many companies are completely unprepared in this area.Why is that? PC ownership is the usual culprit. Companies that purchase their PCs are solely responsible for deciding what to do with them when obsolescent. But confused by complex procedures, countless environmental laws, data security protocols and cost concerns, many companies choose to simplystore their old PCs away in unused rooms and ignore them.There is a better way.

Read that again.

Notice the phrases “enemy of the environment”, “nor good for your company’s public relations” and “countless environmental laws”. Damn those impediments to making shitloads of money!

The next page is a beauty:

PC Lifecycle Management from IBM Global Financing puts your disposal dilemmas to rest, and puts you on the path to a greener future. Regardless of brand, IBM handles every phase of the PC lifecycle – from planning to disposal – in compliance with applicable environmental laws, while also providing you with maximum financial return on your retired equipment.

A recent IDC report concludes that a well-managed 3-year PC lifecycle reduces cost by 20.5% annually compared with a 6-year deployment,and that many companies use leasing to enable their 3-year lifecycle strategy.

Now we’re getting to the real crux of the sales pitch: it’s not really about being “green” at all – it’s about tying the customer into a leasing agreement, and ensuring that the hardware turnover rate doubles, thus making IBM twice as much money out of “disposal dilemmas”. Twice as many computers; twice as much heavy metal; twice as much slave labour; twice as much manufacturing energy – all in a lovely “green” package.

Apart from the corporate green-speak, they have completely failed to localise the document. The address on the file shows it was sent in the UK where the WEEE Directive applies – rather than being “confused by complex procedures, countless environmental laws” any company will already know what to do with their machines (i.e. send them to a secure wiping and resell company) which makes this IBM document not only greenwash but also guilty of trying to make the issue seem far more confusing than it actually is, in order to sell their services…and their PCs.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions | 1 Comment »

Can a Shopping Voucher Skew Survey Results?

Posted by keith on 3rd August 2010

A couple of weeks ago I – or rather our house – received a letter from an organisation called the National Centre for Social Research, inviting us to take part in an annual survey called British Social Attitudes. I like filling in surveys when I have time because it lets me think more about what I believe, and also provides a nice opportunity to screw up systems of categorisation, having found out some time ago that I neatly fitted into not a single one of the geodemographic categories that corporations and governments like to believe we should all be defined by.

This letter contained a little surprise, though; and not a very pleasant one. From the envelope fell a voucher for £5, going by the name of “Love2shop“. This voucher, like all gift vouchers, specifies precisely where the face value can be redeemed, and the range of outlets is ok…if you can see past the gruesome “Love2shop” monicker.

I hate shopping.

But personal opinions aside, what is far more worrying is that the British Social Attitudes survey is meant to be an objective and robust record of British attitudes (at least of those people who have mailing addresses). The letter states:

British Social Attitudes is the most respected and accurate guide to what people in Britain think about a range of issues, so you may have come across facts from our reports in the newspapers or on television. For 27 years our findings have been used by government, top universities, charities and the media to inform policy and insight.

By my reckoning, if such a survey is to fulfil all that then nothing can be allowed to skew the randomisation of the subjects, nor their mindset when answering the questions. The problem is that even though the addresses selected for survey, and the person selected for interview in that address, is statistically random, no one is obliged to take the survey. The questionee has to accept the invitation, so there is a significant element of self selection involved in the survey. Now, who do you think is more likely to be persuaded to take part in a survey upon receipt of a Love2shop voucher: someone who considers themselves to be a “Consumer” or someone who does not?

If this outcome was intentional then I would say that someone was trying to doctor the survey in favour of a consumer society.

I contacted NatCen to find out why, given the apparent objectivity of the survey, someone had thought it would be a good idea to include a shopping voucher as an incentive. The nice researcher I eventually spoke to seemed keen to listen, and indeed took what I said quite seriously; but also said categorically – as far as she knew – that there were no extenuating circumstances: the voucher just seemed like a nice idea at the time and, as far as she was concerned wouldn’t affect the outcomes of the survey. I begged to differ, pointing out that the methodology was already bound to account for the likelihood of different types of people to take surveys, and therefore if the effect of the shopping voucher had also not been accounted for then the survey would be void.

She promised to let someone know.

As an aside, I was also very keen to know the contents of the survey itself, ostensibly to find out whether the questions and the way in which they are asked skewed the outcome towards any particular outcome – one, for instance, that may be desired by a society obsessed with industrial and economic growth. Surprisingly, she not only sent me a link to the survey (you can download the PDF here) but, on first glance, it seemed to be a fairly well conducted survey – albeit something that might have been commissioned by the Daily Mail.

So what of the voucher? Well, sadly it seems to reflect the blanket attitude that everyone in public life seems to have smothered humanity with: we all want to shop.

Posted in Promotions, Public Sector Hypocrisy, Should Know Better | No 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 »

Green Youth Movement: The Frightening Face of Young Consumerism

Posted by keith on 14th May 2010

An impending sense of dispair tends to fall over me when I open my mailbox in the morning. Alongside the genuine spam comes a pile of cut-and-paste guff that spews from the keyboards of public relations firms who have been paid a few bucks to send out sycophantic press releases on behalf of their clients: rather like opening a tin of spam and finding, rather than the glutinous pink stuff you expected, it has also acquired a green fungal glaze.

I have been holding back from opening one particular mail for a few days, maybe expecting it to gently expire and bury itself in my Junk folder. But it refuses to die, and so I have just opened something entitled: “Girl Meets Green”. Even the title is wrong: did “Girl” come across a pulsating blob of verdant matter and politely introduce herself? Maybe “Girl” fell in a vat of paint, was heroically rescued, and has looked in the mirror for the first time since this life-changing event.

Or maybe it’s just lazy PR-speak for another light-green bit of eco-hypocrisy

Hi Keith,

Get ready, because the world is about to get a little
greener, thanks to one ambitious 17-year-old.

The “Green Teen,” a.k.a. Ally Maize, and founder of the Green
Youth Movement is joining forces with the internationally-recognized
environmental company, RecycleBank, to change the world, one city at a time.

Would you like to read the full press release and find out how?

Best,

Annie

What would be the point of reading an even longer version? I’m off to the website of the Green Youth Movement, to see how they are going to make the world greener.

Green Youth Movement’s goal is to educate kids all over the world on living green, and to one day establish this very important information as part of the curriculum in our elementary schools. The mission of GYM is to educate kids and teens about environmental awareness, eco-friendly behavior and small steps that collectively embraced by this age-group can make a big difference for the future.

My name is Ally Maize and I am passionate about the environment and I am taking a stance to help with issues regarding global warming. I have built this site not only as a resource for those people seeking information but for those people who want to try to make a difference and help our environment.

As founder of GYM, I hope to one day garner the support of politicians and educators to create a practical and research based environmental course of study that would ultimately become integrated in every elementary school education curriculum across the nation.

It is my belief that providing youth with meaningful and practical methods of conserving and utilizing resources is the key to changing the direction of global warming. As the effects of global warming continue to advance from a theoretical construct to a reality, it is necessary that each of us assume responsibly to make a difference. Establishing The Green Youth Movement has been my way to embrace what I regard as one of the most significant issue that plagues our future.

GYM aims to enlighten young children and their parents about the vulnerable state of our environment and challenge them to think about the world around them.

I have met some incredible young people with vision, passion and the willingness to stick two fingers up at the system in order to create some kind of change. I have learnt from some young people what it feels like to be a concerned person in a society that values shopping, celebrity and vacations above the fundamental need to have a functioning ecosystem. I have seen young people cry – including my own children – at the thought that certain types of humans are capable of such horrific acts in the pursuit of wealth and status. Oh, that I had such knowledge at such an early age – what could I have done by now?

Well, if I had been Ally Maize, I could have got to meet Miley Cyrus, Renee Zellweger and that prime example of eco-conscious thinking, Paris Hilton. I could also, as per the above introduction to GYM, have become utterly deluded that small, superficial actions create big change; adopted the lie that politicians have any part to play in a sustainable future; in order to alienate part of my audience entirely, I would have referred to “teens” as “young children”; and finally, I would have got my parents to by me an electric car for when I passed my driving test – well, she does live in Beverley Hills…

Oh, but it gets worse – far worse!

The web site is packed full of tips for a Green Lifestyle, the vast majority straight out of high school textbooks, but also plenty that have been conveniently melded to suit the high-flying, Beverley Hills lifestyle that all Green Consumers should also aspire to. Here’s some classic advice on standby power:

Most people think that when you turn something off, it actually turns off. Most people assume that it stops drawing power. Unfortunately, that’s not true in the case of most electric devices. Most of them just hover in standby mode.

The “Phantom load” is the energy that is sapped by appliances when they are plugged in, but not turned on. By turning everything off or unplugging, you save big on your energy bill. In the average American home, 40% of all electricity is used to power appliances while they are turned off.

* Turn off lights, TV, computer, DVD player, cell phone charger, and stereo when finished using them.
* Reduce your demand. Do you really need 2 TV’s in one room?
* Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not charging.

So what does this actually tell us? First, that it’s ok to have loads of gadgets in your house as long as you switch them off, and by “loads” I mean a TV in every room (so long as it’s not TWO TVs in every room). Second, that despite other advice talking about air conditioning (“Installing a programmable thermostat to keep air conditioning at 78 degrees F when it’s hot outside”), somehow devices on standby (or rather “turned off”) consume 40% of electricity in the home – clearly utter nonsense!

Let’s see what GYM tells us about travel – I would assume it would be to avoid flying and driving, and to try to base your life around your local area as much as possible:

The greening of the travel industry-whether away for business or pleasure is now required.

Here are some tips to help you choose where to spend your travel dollar and green-up your trip:

* Greening your travel starts even before you leave home by unplugging unused appliances, turning down the thermostat of the hot water heater, adjusting your AC/heater thermostat and stopping your newspaper.
* Book flights electronically and book flights with airlines that recycle the waste created when serving food and beverages to passengers.

Stop right there! Why are you booking flights, electronically or otherwise – and what difference does it make how you book “your flights” when you are intent on taking a hunk of metal into the air in opposition to gravity? Ah, I see, it’s ok if the airline recycles their waste – don’t worry about the carbon dioxide. Do I sense the Beverley Hills lifestyle clouding Ally’s view of what sustainable travel is?

I would also love her to explain why she is heating water in her house when she has gone on holiday…

Sprinklers:

Use a sprinkler timer. Timers will automatically shut off your sprinkler system after a set period so you dont have to remember. Also use sprinklers that emit large drops of water, low and close to the ground (not the sidewalk or street), and water early in the morning. This will ensure that the water soaks into the soil instead of evaporating.

Whoa! Where did that come from? Ok, it came from the section called “Green for Home and Work“, which strangely omits to mention the option of using water butts, watering cans and getting rid of that water-hogging lawn because LIFE IS NOT A FASHION SHOW!

Some might say I’m being harsh on a 17 year old, but then not all 17 year olds have their Mom and Dad to buy them an electric car with custom plates, employ a huge “Board of Advisors” or pay for a PR company which doesn’t even bother to check the nature of the people to which they send out press releases – yes, it was sent to news@unsuitablog.org.

If this is the face of the future then I would rather sew my eyelids together.

Posted in Celebrity Hypocrisy, General Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Promotions | 8 Comments »

Earth911 Don’t Want My Empty Paper Bag!

Posted by keith on 23rd March 2010

Ever get the feeling that people just aren’t getting it? This is one of those occasions when the email tells the story – especially the responses, which are beyond dumb and show Earth911 up to be just another green smokescreen for business as usual.

Earth911 is Looking for Cool, Green Products
Get involved in our Earth Day 40/40 Giveaway!

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Earth911.com will feature 40 products and tips about how to recycle them in our Earth Day 40/40 Campaign, as well as host a Giveaway of green gifts to its readers.

Why we’d love to have you: Every year, the weeks surrounding Earth Day constitute the highest influx of traffic on Earth911.com. In exchange for giving a prize to be part of the Giveaway, your company will receive recognition on our site: We’ll announce your organization’s participation in our Giveaway through editorial coverage on Earth911.com, as well as through Twitter and Facebook. You’ll also be featured in our announcement of the winners on Earth Day itself, giving you elevated visibility. Translation: Free advertising during the most popular time on our site!

If you want to learn more: Email Jennifer (below) for more details. While we may not be able to take everyone who wants to participate, we are open to checking out any products that have a “green” spin, especially those that incorporate recycled or recyclable materials. We also have paid sponsorships available as well for an even better deal!

CONTACT
Earth911

Jennifer Berry, Public & Strategic Relations Manager
O: 480-889-2650
C: 602-692-1721
jberry@earth911.com

Our mailing address is:

Earth911.com
1375 N. Scottsdale Rd
Suite 360
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

I had a little think about this, and realised what the ideal prize would be. Ok, I’m not a company and don’t have products with a “green spin” but surely there are some gifts that say far more than others…

Dear Jennifer

Thank you for your email. I am writing on behalf of the anti-greenwashing site, The Unsuitablog, and we would be delighted to take part in your giveaway.

We are offering an empty, plain paper carrier bag filled with life-giving air. Should the owner decide to put purchased goods of any type in the bag then the life-giving air will be forced out of the bag, replaced by an item that required energy to manufacture and transport, not to mention the resources required in its production and the damage caused by the extraction of the fuel required to provide the energy. Thus, the empty bag, unfilled, symbolizes no net increase in greenhouse gases or environmental degradation.

The bag will be pre-owned, and as it starts to degrade naturally it may be composted, thus returning it’s constituents back to the soil.

Please let me know where you would like the item to be sent.

Kind regards

Keith Farnish
The Unsuitablog
Rayleigh, Essex, England.

Hmm, no response…

Hi Jennifer

Could you please acknowledge this – my email was deadly serious.

Regards

Keith

Hi Keith,

My lack of response didn’t indicate any inclination on my part that you weren’t serious. I’ve simply been quite busy as this week has moved along :)

We won’t be using your gift as part of our giveaway. But thank you for submitting it, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me in the future if I can be a resource to you in any way!

Thanks,
Jennifer Berry

I felt the need to reach out to Jennifer…

Hi Jennifer

Could you tell me why you will not be using my gift? Surely it is far more environmentally sound than any other gift you have been offered.

As I said, we are offering an empty, plain paper carrier bag filled with life-giving air. Should the owner decide to put purchased goods of any type in the bag then the life-giving air will be forced out of the bag, replaced by an item that required energy to manufacture and transport, not to mention the resources required in its production and the damage caused by the extraction of the fuel required to provide the energy. Thus, the empty bag, unfilled, symbolizes no net increase in greenhouse gases or environmental degradation.

The bag will be pre-owned, and as it starts to degrade naturally it may be composted, thus returning it’s constituents back to the soil.

This seems like the best possible symbol of good intentions.

Yours

Keith Farnish
www.unsuitablog.com

I mean, how could they refuse the most environmentally friendly gift I could think of? Surely Earth911 is all about preventing global catastrophe…

Hello Keith,

My name is Raquel Fagan and I am the Executive Editor of Earth911. Thank you for your email. We will not be using your submission for following reasons:

Though we appreciate the gesture, we do not believe that the value the gift will provide the winner will be worth the approximately 38 pounds of carbon it will take to transport the package form London to Phoenix (calculated using CarbonFund.org).

It would be much more environmentally sound to simply have people use a bag they already own, then to send them a bag via postage.

From our home composting system to our re-purposed home decor prizes, we promise that we have given this contest much consideration. We are doing our best to assure that it honors Earth Day as much as possible while still providing people with objects designed to remind them of their personal impact during the other 364 days of the year.

Thanks again, and have a nice day.

Raquel Fagan
www.Earth911.com
Executive Editor
1375 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Suite 360
Scottsdale, AZ 85257

480.889.2650 P
480.889.2660 F

Got an iPhone? Get iRecycle!

(I had to leave that “iPhone” signature in)

Hmm, I get the feeling that I’m not really communicating what I want to, here. They are happy to accept crappy gizmos made in the Far East by underpaid wage-slaves, then transported halfway across the world, but my paper bag…no, that isn’t nearly “green” enough.

I had to say something:

Dear Raquel

Thank you for your response. Did you think I was going to fly it? I would never do that, it would go by sea and surface. Better than that, I could get a friend in the USA to send one of their bags to you; that should cover any concerns you may have.

Of course, as you think it would be much more environmentally sound for people to use a bag they already own, why is it ok to give away other items? I thought that compost bins or wind up lights, for instance, would require rather more than 38 pounds of carbon to manufacture. They might honour Earth Day, such as it is, but they don’t honour the Earth.

Could it be because the idea of zero-consumption doesn’t fit with your organization’s agenda? I’m assuming those great bastions of green action that sponsor youBP, Kmart, ExxonMobil and the American Chemistry Council for instance – might sit uncomfortably with “saving the Earth”; certainly I would feel *very* uncomfortable to be taking money from them.

Sort of puts my potential 38 pounds of carbon into perspective…

Kind regards

Keith

No response so far.

(By the way, I checked out how much carbon my paper bag would require to transport, and it’s actually just 2 pounds by ship based on http://www.carbonfund.org/business/calculator#Office. But if you only think by plane, how could you imagine other people not using a plane?)

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Promotions, Sponsorship, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Crazy Green Claims Make PR Company Look Stupid

Posted by keith on 18th February 2010

It’s painful to watch this, but if you really want to see a giant green marketing Weeble take centre stage at a presentation by a racing team that, by its own admission, will “dabble in just about anything that has wheels”, then feel free. It gets really silly about 5 minutes in.

But first is the email exchange between myself and Megan Palmer who works for a PR company, promoting a product that – and it gets a bit complicated here – has a part to play in the thing that they actually mention, as opposed to the thing they don’t mention which is the product they are supposed to be promoting! You’ll see what I mean if you keep reading…

From: Megan Palmer
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 1:09 AM
To: Megan Palmer
Subject: FW: Rick Ware Racing Video Press Conference Tomorrow at 3pm EST To Announce Green Sponsor

Hi,

I wanted to introduce myself and invite you to participate in Rick Ware Racing’s Video Press Conference where they will announce our green client as their multi-year sponsor for NASCAR, right before Daytona 500 next week tomorrow during a live video press conference. I will be contacting you in the near future regarding this exciting green product.

The press conference is tomorrow at 3pm EST http://www.ustream.tv/channel/rick-ware-racing or follow them on twitter for more @rickwareracing

Hope you can tune in and I look forward to working with you soon!

Megan

Megan Palmer
Executive Account Manager
Public Relations & Events

megan@amgwagency.com

ph: 305.856.8004 x: 304
fax: 305.856.8650
bb pin: 30FDCD98

Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/meganpalmeramg

900 SW 8th Street C-2
Miami, Fl 33130

From: “Keith Farnish”
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 2010 09:25:10 -0000
To: Megan Palme
Cc: Keith Farnish
Subject: Re: Rick Ware Racing Video Press Conference Tomorrow at 3pm EST To Announce Green Sponsor

WHAT! How can a “green” client be a sponsor of a motor racing team?!

Please respond as this is astonishing.

Keith

From: megan@amgwagency.com
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 11:28 AM
To: Keith Farnish
Subject: Re: Rick Ware Racing Video Press Conference Tomorrow at 3pm EST To Announce Green Sponsor

Good morning, maybe its better phrased as ‘eco friendly’. :) hope you can tune in.

Sent on the Now Network� from my Sprint® BlackBerry

On Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 6:33 AM, Keith Farnish wrote:

That still doesn’t make sense, Megan. What part of motor racing is “eco friendly”?

Keith

From: Megan Palmer
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 11:54 AM
To: Keith Farnish
Subject: Re: Rick Ware Racing Video Press Conference Tomorrow at 3pm EST To Announce Green Sponsor

The product is “eco-friendly” but that’s only one component. It’s an automotive product, which is why they’re taking part in the motor racing sport. I can’t say too much more before the video conference. As I look further at your website maybe it’s not a fit for your type of “green” coverage. Sorry for wasting your time. :) Have a good weekend

My type of “green” coverage. As opposed to what? I assume Megan meant really gullible “green” coverage that dumbly reproduces anything that purports to be green in order to pack out its RSS feed.

[On a sidenote, one reason The Unsuitablog doesn't have 10000 subscribers is precisely because it doesn't dumbly reproduce every bit of cack sent to it in order to have 5 or 10 posts per day. I would like to think the people who read this actually care about the subject matter...]

So, much later on I watched a recorded version of the Rick Ware Press Conferenc because, for some strange reason, I didn’t feel like watching it live. It turns out that Megan’s client is (I assume) the makers of Fuel Doctor, the product represented by the Weeble. I popped over to their site and had a read.

Apparently, simply by plugging this little gizmo into the cigarette lighter port of a car, your mileage can improve by 25%. This is mightily impressive considering all it is is an electrical filter, much like the ones you can put between a power supply and an amplifier to (theoretically) improve the sound quality of a hi-fi. Which makes me rather concerned that hundreds of millions of people are driving around at any one time in highly complex pieces of machinery that are so badly made that a simple line filter can fundamentally alter the ability of an engine to process gasoline.

So it’s a good thing that it’s a complete load of bollocks.

The so-called “certified lab tests” show, in shattered English, between 0.055% and 0.5% fewer carbon dioxide emissions. Yes, this incredible “green” technology has the equivalent emissions improvements to cleaning a bit of dirt off the windscreen.

Now, I know the CO2 test is right, because it uses a standard piece of kit, used around the globe to a recognised level of accuracy. But in the test that produced 0.055% less carbon dioxide, the car used 16% less fuel! They have somehow contrived to create something that uses up to 25% less fuel, yet emits virtually the same amount of carbon dioxide. According to a link on their web site:

It should be noted that the majority of the Carbon (99%) coming out of an engine is in the form of CO2. This means that improvements in fuel economy result in reduced CO2 emissions.

How did they measure the fuel use? Well, nowhere does it actually say, except on one of the tests we see some rulers next to some measuring jugs containing alarmingly orange liquid. Anyway, as the man said, emissions should match fuel economy, and they don’t, so nothing on the Fuel Doctor site has any credence whatsoever.

And neither does sending out a press release claiming that something to do with a motor racing team is “green” :-)

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Tesco Goes “Green” – Continues To Sell Crap To The Masses

Posted by keith on 3rd February 2010

This is classic greenwash. Vintage greenwash, in fact.

Tesco, the British supermarket giant headed by Sir Terry Leahy (knighted for services to corporate power), has announced that one of their 2,360 stores is to become carbon neutral. I assume, obviously, that this carbon neutrality includes the things they sell in the store, rather than just the operational carbon, otherwise you could be excused for thinking that – heaven forbid – this is a PR stunt.

The story is taken up by Julia Finch in The Guardian, who opens with a cracking statistic…

Supermarket group Tesco, which pumps out some four million tonnes of carbon a year, today opened its first zero carbon store as part of its bid to be a carbon ­neutral company by 2050.

The shop, in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, is timber-framed rather than steel, and uses skylights and sun pipes to cut lighting costs. It also has a combined heat and power plant powered by renewable bio-fuels, exporting extra electricity back to the national grid. In addition the refrigerators – one of the biggest blackspots for food retailers trumpeting their green credentials – have doors to save energy and harmful HFC refrigerant gases have been replaced.

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said: “It shows that you can dramatically alter how much carbon you use and life can go on”.

The new store, he said, “cost 30% more to build, but it uses 50% less energy, and with oil at $70 a barrel it is a business case in itself”.

To coincide with the Ramsey opening, the supermarket chain said it intended to spend more than £100m with green technology companies, although Leahy was unsure of the level of supermarket’s current spend on this.

Tesco has been at the forefront of the grocers’ race to be green. The UK’s biggest supermarket has provided £25m of funding for the University of Manchester to set up a sustainable consumption institute, and has a 10-point community plan, with pledges to increase local sourcing and to consult local communities in an attempt to be viewed as a good neighbour.

Apart from the obvious dissonance between Tesco’s 2,360 stores that rip the heart out of communities wherever they are located – and, believe me, they are not located in order to develop a harmonic relationship with any community – there is the small matter of what Tesco sells.

In 2009, Tesco had a turnover – essentially a measure of how much stuff they sell – of £59.4 billion, an increase of 15.1% on the previous year. Of that vast amount, £41.5 billion is from UK sales, with the remaining £18 billion accounted for by supermarkets in Thailand (614 stores), China (50 “hypermarkets”), Ireland (117), South Korea (280), Japan (137), Turkey (100), Poland (313) and the USA (113).

As the “green” store is in the UK, we should focus on Tesco’s activities there: so we see £28.5 billion coming from food retailing – what is considered the Core Business – and the bulk of the remainder from non-food retail (clothes, electrical goods, homeware etc).

If you live in the UK, I want you to go into a Tesco store and pick ten items at random, both food and non-food, then try and find out where the items were manufactured, grown or otherwise produced. You’re going to have an interesting time with food because, like most food in supermarkets, the items contain a huge variety of different ingredients emanating from all across the globe: simplicity is not in the nature of mass food retailing. Fruit, vegetables and other single-source items will invariable be a mix of local (ish) and from much further away; but you can be assured that even “local” items will have been moved from one end of the country to the other a couple of times for warehousing and distribution before reaching the store.

Non-food items are made, basically, in China.

Tesco’s Carbon Disclosure (via http://www.cdproject.net) is interesting, to say the least, and it’s well worth repeating here:

8.1. Please indicate the category that describes the company, entities, or group for which Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions are reported.

Companies over which operational control is exercised.

8.2. Please state whether any parts of your business or sources of GHG emissions are excluded from your reporting boundary.

Production of goods, supplier transport, international freight, asset sites, waste recycling and disposal, employee commuting, customer transport, consumption and disposal of goods.

So while they are honest about their “direct” emissions, they completely ignore the thing that accounts for the bulk of Tesco’s emissions: the production and transportation of the things they sell.

The aforementioned four million tonnes of carbon dioxide is, large as it seems, only the tip of Terry’s toxic iceberg.

Why should this be a problem, given that the companies that make and transport the stuff should be disclosing and accounting for their emissions? Because Tesco is a huge company, and for the most part, if they did not exist to sell people overprocessed, long-haul, extraneous and unnecessary things that people would not buy were they not marketed by Tesco’s gigantic marketing machine, the emissions simply would not be produced. But, hey! They have a carbon neutral store, so that’s ok, isn’t it?

Tesco: every lie helps.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting, Promotions | No Comments »

Greenland Bottled Water: Sickening Irony

Posted by keith on 24th December 2009

(http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,52260545001_1947480,00.html)

Alerted to this video by a correspondant, who commented:

In what might be the greatest example of dystopian irony ever imagined, entrepreneurs in Greenland are seeking to use water taken from chunks of melting glaciers and bottling it in plastic for sale. Never mind that single-use plastics are one of the reasons that CO2 levels continue to rise.

To which I would add, that the whole operation stinks of yet another creeping tendril from the industrial machine desperately grabbing whatever “resources” it can take in order to siphon off the last few dollars (or Krone) from a dying empire. This is with the full backing of the Greenlandic government. The quotation from the video that really makes my blood boil is this one:

“Nature’s own knife has sliced this historic product and sent it crashing into the ocean. Creating enormous icebergs that float elegantly into the open sea: a resource possessing fantastic potential.”

The website marketing these monstrous products refer to the water as having been “reborn after 180,000 years.” No matter that with this “rebirth” comes so many deaths. No matter that the Greenland Ice Cap has the potential to raise the world’s oceans by 7m.

No matter. That’s business.

Posted in Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions | No Comments »