Saturday, 31 December 2011

Environmentally Reckless Marketing Ploys

It is no secret that in order to create products in an industrial world, we have to commit some harm to the environment. While major corporations receive backlash for their treatment of the land we live on, they also make attempts to disguise their actions in the form of “green” marketing. Some companies have been exposed for their false messages while others have blatantly disregarded the sanctity of Mother Earth. Here are 5 of the most devious displays of reckless abandonment ever seen in the marketing world:

Every Mobile Product Commercial

The mobile companies run intensive advertising campaigns that make their products look clean, crisp, and current. If you see any marketing venture for Apple, you are going to get an onslaught of white mixed with slick black and chrome features.

While the advertising is designed to throw you off guard, the truth is that these companies employ millions of workers in foreign countries in sweatshop conditions. Every new release promises the fastest connection ever, but it is really slowing the earth down with billions of tons of waste going directly into landfills and the ocean.

10,000 Red Balloons

In what seems to be an homage to the German singer Nena's 1980's hit “99 Red Balloons,” a San Francisco video game company called TrashTalkFCM released 10,000 red balloons over the entire bay area. While it was no doubt a spectacle, the marketing stunt is wreaking havoc on the birds and marine life which calls the bay home. According to the SF Weekly, the city is fining the company $7,000 and is expecting payment within 30 days.


McDonald's is one of the most egregious exploiters of the environment in the history of industry. They generate billions of tons of waste, create unhealthy food sources for impoverished urban citizens, and release unnecessary amounts of methane into the atmosphere with their factory farmed cattle. Back in the 1980's, before people got into the entire “green” movement, McDonald's introduced a product known as the McDLT.

As evidenced by this extremely dated commercial featuring Jason Alexander, the McDLT was served in a Styrofoam container which kept your burger hot and your veggies crisp. Instead of actually preparing food fresh, the fast food giant decided it was a good idea to make consumers do all of the work themselves and add waste to landfills across America.

GE's Green Week

When GE owned the NBC network, they promoted an annual “Green Week” once or twice throughout the year. While this was a nod to the entire environmental movement, the fact is that GE is a pillar of industry and creates more waste than most developed nations. This bi-annual PR stunt was a clever way into deceiving the public about the inner-workings of the company.


The corn producers of America have the government in their pocket. Not only do these farmers get to control what most of what the entire world eats on a daily basis, they also want to change how we power our vehicles and buildings. A few years back, ethanol became a buzz word for reducing carbon emissions and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

In reality, ethanol and other biofuels emit even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and take more energy to cultivate. This is an example of how an extensive lobbying budget and the control of Congress can create just as effective of a marketing campaign than any money spent of television advertising.

Before falling for advertisements claiming the purported convenience or green capabilities of certain products, use your head and analyze what is really going on. Companies need to unload products in order to make profits and will do so at virtually any means necessary. Become a smarter and more informed consumer by visiting sites like The Education Update and Consumer Reports.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Hydrogen cars - the future?

The opening of the UK's first public refuelling station for hydrogen vehicles in Swindon is part of efforts to create a "hydrogen highway" along the M4 motorway. It is also seen as an important step in a UK-wide scheme to make hydrogen vehicles a viable alternative to petrol-driven cars. "A hydrogen car is much cleaner than a conventional car," says Professor Kevin Kendall, a hydrogen and fuel cell expert from Birmingham University. "This will clean up our cities enormously," he says in an interview with BBC News. "No emissions whatsoever." For more information on green cars and green insurance visit the Green Insurance Directory.

Plastic debris 'killing Adriatic loggerhead turtles'

One in three loggerhead turtles in the Adriatic Sea has plastic in its intestine, according to research in the Marine Pollution Bulletin. The Adriatic sea floor is one of the most polluted in Europe and the shallow waters of the Adriatic are important feeding grounds for the turtles.

Hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic litter the world's oceans

Scientists are investigating ways of dealing with the millions of tonnes of floating plastic rubbish that litters our oceans. One of the largest areas of plastic litter is in the North Pacific and covers an area twice the size of France. As well as damaging coasts and killing marine life who mistake the plastic for food, contaminants in the water, which attach to the plastic debris, are distributing waste chemicals across the world's oceans. This dire situation emphasises the need for sustainable goods being used in preference to (arguably) cheaper but ecologically damaging alternatives. The plastic debris now strewn across our oceans is a sad indictment of our collective failure and a burdensome mess for future generations to clean up.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Survey reveals environmental damage of car washing

It's a typical Sunday morning chore, but over half of British motorists are unaware of the environmental harm of regularly hand washing their cars.

Whilst nearly three quarters (74%) of Britons understand that their individual actions have an effect on the environment, they appear to be unaware that washing a car on streets and driveways causes dirty water to run into the nearest rivers and streams, where it affects water quality and harms wildlife.

Survey organisers Total UK and say if half of the 43 million British motorists decided to hand wash their car, 14 billion litres of untreated water would flow into local waterways .

Green cars

Hybrid cars use a conventional petrol engine as well as an electric battery that charges as you drive and automatically switches on when the car slows down, making city driving more eco-friendly. These cars cost around two-thirds less to run than a petrol car, have reduced road tax and are exempt from the London congestion charge [read more]

What is carbon neutral?

When insurance companies talk about being carbon neutral, they mean balancing a measured amount of carbon emissions with an equivalent amount that is captured through one process or another. With net emissions being zero it becomes ‘carbon neutral’.

The most environmentally aware insurance companies will always seek to firstly reduce their own emissions and those of their customers. This will include making their buildings more eco-friendly and cutting energy use. Customers will be encouraged to drive more fuel efficient cars and given advice and incentives to reduce their carbon footprint. Only after this will unavoidable emissions be offset.

Carbon emissions can be offset in a number of ways. For example, carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels can be balanced against renewable energy that creates a similar amount of useful energy, so that the carbon emissions are compensated. More dubiously, insurance companies can pay others to remove carbon emissions by planting trees or by funding 'carbon projects' that lead to the prevention of future greenhouse gas emissions, or by buying carbon credits to remove them through carbon trading.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dangerously radioactive sites in UK revealed

New disclosures from the Ministry of Defence reveal that at least 15 sites across the UK have been contaminated with radiation from military equipment used in World War 2. The extent of the contamination is largely unknown yet the sites are still accessible by the public and are even being considered for the development of home and businesses [read more]

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Good news! Cairn Energy's Arctic drilling misadventures are over

After spending more than a billion dollars and risking ecological disaster in the biggest oil exploration campaign ever in the Arctic, Cairn has found no commercially extractable oil at all, putting its entire Arctic drilling project in doubt.

The astronomical costs (and the company's plummeting share price) mean that there will be no further exploratory drilling off Greenland for the foreseeable future.

Not by Cairn, anyway.

Other oil companies - including Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Statoil - all hold licenses to drill in an untouched area off the north-east coast of Greenland. Elsewhere in the Arctic, Shell plans to start drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska next year, and Gazprom in the Pechora Sea north of Siberia.

Cairn's demise is good news for the environment but we must remain vigilant.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The great River Taff cleanup project

A few short decades ago, the River Taff drained some of the largest coal mines in South Wales. Tributaries ran black with coal dust, and there were plenty of other contaminants flowing into the Taff and on into Cardiff Bay and the Bristol Channel. Along with large reaches of the Ebbw, the Rhymney, the Ely, and the Rhondda, the lower waters of the Taff were too toxic to support much life. It's estimated that the river once received about 100,000 tonnes of mining waste per year.
30 years ago the Taff was considered unfishable below the industrial works around Merthyr Tydfil. It now plays host to international fly fishing championships. Salmon can be seen leaping the weirs just a mile from Cardiff city centre, and waterbirds, insects, and amphibians have all returned to the lower reaches. It made a recent Environment Agency list of the 10 most improved rivers in the UK.
While the cleanup began with the closure of the mines it would be a mistake to assume that the Taff returned to a healthy state on its own. Huge efforts have gone into restoring it, including everything from small tributaries like the Taff Bargoed, which flows past the site of Merthyr Vale Colliery, to the artificial banks put in place to protect Cardiff suburbs from flooding. Sewerage treatment works have been improved and the remaining industrial outflow points more tightly controlled. The weirs have been modified to allow salmon to pass more easily and wetlands re-established to provide vital habitat for other species.
The efforts to clean up South Wales rivers have delivered immense benefits to the local community as well as the environment. A 55 mile cycle path winds down the Taff valley now, and country parks have been built on the Taff Bargoed and the Rhondda. The rivers are now used for fishing, birdwatching, kayaking, and rowing rather than draining industrial waste.
Volunteers, angling and watersports clubs, environmental campaigners, and local and national authorities all played a part in the tremendous recovery of the Taff and other South Wales rivers, and they should all have a share of the credit. However, the work is far from over. Out the 6114 rivers in England and Wales only five are pristine. Just over a quarter are considered to be in good condition.
Under EU regulations that figure ought to be 95%. Cleaning up Britain's rivers is a formidable task, but it can be done. All it takes is a short walk by the Taff so see that it's not only possible to return heavily polluted rivers to sound condition but also get some idea of the potential benefits. The clean Taff now has a tremendous value to local people as well as flora and fauna.

Jess Spate lives less than a mile from the River Taff and has been lucky enough to see the salmon running there. She has cycled beside it, enjoyed the wading birds in the wetlands, and kayaked reaches that were toxic not so long ago.