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We’ve been laughing/crying our heads off after browsing through some of the internet’s most cringe-worthy examples of propaganda designed to downplay the impact of some of the most environmentally-damaging activities such as fracking and oil drilling.
According to The Greenwashing Index, "it's greenwashing when a company or organisation spends more time and money claiming to be "green" through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimise environmental impact."
In fact, CorpWatch used to hold an annual Greenwash Academy Awards event to celebrate just how ridiculous it is when dirty brands try to clean themselves off with expensive adverting.
Shell Oil: Reef Picture
It's a risky tactic, and one that's unlikely to pay off. Shell Oil seems to think that it can get us on side by putting pictures of pretty coral reefs on their website. Maybe they think we'll forget that their activities are killing the Great Barrier Reef.
Interestingly, there are no results when you search for "Great Barrier Reef" on the Shell website….
Cringe Factor: Your dad in Crocs at the supermarket
Woodside: Pictures of happy people and reefs
You'd never guess that this brochure was for an oil and gas company. It looks more like something for a community centre or charity.
Imagine if the money that companies put into campaigns like these was put to use in decarbonising the economy….
Cringe Factor: Forgetting someone's name at a party
Coca Cola Life
Yup, make the label green and magically this soft drink is healthier and more environmentally friendly! If only it really worked that way…
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "health campaigners said the reduction to 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 600ml bottle made little difference in terms of health impacts." Among this group is Professor Amanda Lee of Queensland University of Technology, and former chair of the National Health and Medical Research Council's Dietary Guidelines Working Committee, who has condemned Coca Cola's $10 million launch of the new "green" product.
Cringe Factor: Saying "thanks, you too" when the airport staff member tells you to "Enjoy your flight"
North Texans for Natural Gas: FrackFeed
You will laugh, you will cry, but most of all you will cringe. The pro-fracking website Frackfeed.com can only be described as the most embarrassing example of organisations trying to use popular culture to further their cause.
The site has, expectedly, caused uproar. Over at DeSmog, the site has been criticised as being nothing more than a guerrilla public relations exercise: "The oil and gas industry has long used expensive astroturf tactics to gin up the appearance of grassroots support to mask what are actually corporate public relations campaigns."
It is doubtful a website that mimics successful sites and lifts original content from other places will help the fracking industry convince the public to ignore mounting reports that fracking has a negative impact on air, water, and health.- DeSmog
Furthermore, DeSmog has discovered that the four companies behind North Texans for Natural Gas are Devon Energy, EnerVest, EOG Resources and ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy.
Cringe Factor: Your mum making a speech at your high school about your childhood bedwetting issues
Check out these great tips to spot greenwashing! If you see any other notable examples, please let us know in the comments below.
READ THIS NEXT: Coca-Cola greenwashing to attract health-conscious consumers!
[Banner image: Business Insider]
What you can do
Do shopper research on carbon footprint before you buy
CO2 pollution is embedded in everything we buy. By looking for Australian-made products, credible environmental claims, and minimal and recyclable packaging, we can minimise pollution.