This week: What is Earth Day?; greenwashing on Earth Day; and next week’s sustainability calendar

Illustration & graphics: author

Welcome to the sixth Rethink Convenience weekly. Each week I summarise the latest articles in Rethink Convenience, highlight some interesting things I’ve encountered in the last week, and give a preview of what’s coming up.

I started Earth Day with an email from Amazon, wishing me, without the faintest hint of irony, a happy Earth Day, and telling me all of the amazing things they were doing to save the planet. I knew right then that I was in for a day of unrepentant and shameless greenwashing.

The sad truth is that many companies see an event like Earth Day as just another marketing opportunity: a trending hashtag that they can hijack for their own purposes or a way to try to win over Gen Z.

This superficial use of the environmental cause without actually caring about the environment is called greenwashing.

Using false promises, misleading statistics, or future technologies to justify not changing current unsustainable practices is greenwashing.

When a company promotes its new net-zero target, without providing any achievable, realistic and science-based actions to get there, it’s greenwashing.

When a company promotes itself as green because its packaging is made from recyclable materials, it’s greenwashing.

And I’ve had enough of the bullshit. I’m fed up with the cynical hijacking of the sustainable movement for financial means and so I’m going to start calling these companies out. I urge you to do the same.

Let us stand up to these companies and let them know that we’re on to them. Let us let our peers know that they are being lied to. Let’s shine a light on the lies, the misleading statistics, the promises of a technological revolution, every last piece of bullshit and chicanery that excuses companies from any attempt at fixing the messes they’ve fucking created.

Who’s with me?

Sensibly, most of the large oil and gas companies elected not to tweet on Earth Day, which demonstrates at least some self-awareness. Others, though, just couldn’t help themselves. Plastic polluters telling how great it is that they’re using recyclable plastic (also here). Airlines trying to convince us that because they’re offsetting their carbon, we don’t need to worry about the vast quantities of carbon dioxide their industry is responsible for. Countless others telling us how they’re building a sustainable future. And the buzzword of the day: “Net Zero”.

So, to mark this Earth Day I urge you to do something simple: Pick just one company that you know (or suspect) may be greenwashing. Follow them on social media, and ride them. Call out their shit. Drag them. Challenge their vagueness. Highlight what’s not being said. Let them know that they’re being watched.

If you’ve got a brazen example of greenwashing you’d like to bring to my attention, please share it with me. If you’re interested in learning more, please join our Facebook group.

New Stories

What is Earth Day? (22 April)

Earth Day celebrates nature in all its forms, our relationship with this planet and its planet-wide ecosystem… This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth” [which] is all about ways in which we can change our existing activities to benefit nature, such as switching to regenerative agriculture, and finding ways to replenish nature, such as reforestation

Read more →

What I’ve consumed this week

  • TV: The Daily Climate Show — A new show which Sky News advertise as the first of its kind in the UK; a daily fifteen-minute round-up of the day’s climate news, developments, and stories of the people who are being affected by climate change. So far I’ve found it an open and informative watch, but I’ll need to watch a bit more to determine if there are topics they’re avoiding and what the level of commentary is.
  • Webinar: How Can We Live More Sustainably?— This webinar held by Sustainability First provided real solutions and inspiration for those who just started on their sustainability journey, or are unsure about how to start. I found it inspirational and was pleased to see a group of relatively young people speak so eloquently about the climate.

Next Week

Sunday, 25 April:

Monday, 26 April to Sunday, 2 May: National Gardening Week (UK)

Tuesday, 27 April: World Tapir Day

Wednesday, 28 April: Stop Food Waste Day (international) (no link)

Thursday, 29 April: the release of How to Love Animals in a Human-Shaped World by Henry Mance (note this is an affiliate link through to support local bookshops)

Friday, 30 April: Arbor Day (US)

Saturday, 1 May:

Sunday, 2 May:

To view everything happening in April click here, and everything happening in the next 12 months, click here.

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