Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Can you pass the greenwash test?

Unsustainable human consumption
If you listen to the marketing hype of some of the larger companies these days its easy to be seduced into thinking that they're all green and adopting sustainable policies towards the environment.

Its true that some have made encouraging steps forward, which is to be commended. However, a large proportion have cynically jumped on the green bandwagon and added 'eco' to various products and services whilst making no real changes to protect the environment. 'Greenwashing' as its become known, is prevalent across a range of industries.

At the same time, confusion over what is genuinely green and consumer disinterest and apathy, have led to the subject of sustainability dropping off the radar and being kicked into the long grass. Remember the coalition's pledge to be the 'greenest government ever'?

Let's ignore the various claims and counter-claims and look at two fundamental facts, which are quite alarming, and which serve to expose the truth behind the facade.

Firstly, wildlife populations have halved in the last 40 years, according to the latest Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund. The report states that "the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity globally comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption". That includes massive human population growth, particularly in Africa. The earth is undergoing a mass extinction due to human activity and we don't even realise it.

Secondly, global greenhouse gas emissions are set to hit a record high this year, with a rise of 2.5 per cent above 2013 levels. In other words, climate change isn't being brought under control - its actually spiralling out of control.

Don't be fooled into believing that we are living in a greener world, run by green governments and corporations trying to protect the environment. The unpalatable truth is that things are far worse now than they were before the so-called 'green revolution.'

If larger numbers of consumers can be better informed and convinced of the ecological dangers we face, then their combined demand for greener goods and services will cause a paradigm shift in buying behaviour whilst forcing traditional companies to adopt policies that reduce harm to the environment.

All of which makes it more imperative to see through cynical greenwashing and push for genuinely green products, whilst adopting more sustainable lifestyles.

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