Top Five Greenwash Posts of the Year

Dear Readers,

Triple Pundit has had a heck of a year. With your help we’ve grown to be one of the most widely read online publications about sustainable business, brought in many new contributors, and helped stoke the fires of a new, green economy in many new places. We hope you’ve had a great time reading and engaging with us and we’re ready to kick of January with a lot of new features, partnerships, and content.

To celebrate the end of the year, our crack team of editors has put together a few top-five lists for the year, including this one…the top five greenwash stories of 2009.

“Smart Choices” Food Label Recommends “Froot Loops”
As if our obsessive-compulsive nutrition culture was not frenetic enough with the deluge of conflicting reports and industry funded studies about diet, a food labeling project called “Smart Choices” launched earlier this year, a pseudo certification to help shoppers identify “smarter food and beverage choices.”

“Smarter Choices” for consumers include Froot Loops and Cocoa Crispies, arguing that sugary cereals are a better choice than a donut. The article provides an interesting glimpse into complicated food policy in the U.S., and how the “smarter” choices conveniently align with major corporate food industry interests. Read on…

Latisse: The Hilarity of FDA Approved Prescription Eyelash Treatment
Spokeswoman Brooke Shields wants to tell you about the miracle anti-aging cure: bimatoprost ophthalmic solution. Oh, if that’s a too hard to pronounce, just call it Latisse, an FDA-approved treatment for “inadequate” eyelashes. Latisse, interestingly, is the same product as controversial drug Lumigen, which was developed to treat glaucoma.

Though the applications are different, with a little clever marketing and re-branding, the makers behind the two drugs hoped to sidestep one nagging side effect of their use: studies have shown Lumigen to permanently change iris pigmentation in patients who take that drug. It ultimately begs the question… what is the real price of beauty? Read on…

California Group Blames Immigrants for Climate Change
In perhaps one of the more sensational stories of the year, an anti-immigration group created a multimedia ad campaign blaming immigrants for climate change and environmental degradation in California. Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAP, argues that immigrants, legal and illegal, increase their carbon footprint four-fold when they move to the US and “Americanize” their consumption habits, thus exacerbating climate problems.

Though, the premise of the argument may have come from a seemingly logical starting point, the group has been criticized for grossly skewing the facts about its claims, not to mention it has been associated neo-Nazi groups in Southern California. Read on…

Does Drinking FIJI Water Prop Up a Dictatorship?
Similarly to Wal-Mart and McDonald’s these days, FIJI water has earned the recognition for being one of the best and worst brands out there in terms of the environment. The folks over at Mother Jones, however, took the story one step further, claiming that FIJI water is propping up a military dictatorship in the island nation.

This piece was an insightful reflection by 3p founder and publisher, examining the back and forth between Mother Jones’ editors and spokespeople from the bottled water company. If nothing else, it shows how issues like these aren’t as simplistic and idyllic as the images of paradise depicted on the bottles. Read on…

Surprise! Sigg Bottles Did Contain BPA After All
In keeping with the theme of water, the next story is one filled with BPA-laden tears. Easily, over the course of recent years, Sigg’s metal water bottles became the symbol of healthy environmentalism as hordes of proud greenies from all over marched around carrying the bottles as badges of honor.

There was one, slightly-embarrassing problem with all of it. Sigg bottles were revealed to contain Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA–which is the substance that turned greenies away from plastic bottles in the first place, and which Sigg had earlier said it did not use. Read on…

If 2009 Was the Year of the Greenwash, What Does 2010 Have in Store?
From extremist, potentially white-supremacist groups to the socio-political ramifications of purchasing a brand from across the globe, 2009 has been an interesting year to see how people tried to negotiate what green means to them. It is a sign that sustainability as an ethos is still very much being defined, that green marketing and green business principles aren’t always aligned.

But as Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine prophetically claimed in his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for every video of a cat spinning in an office chair on YouTube, there might also be the next genius business model of online video somewhere out there. Perhaps for every preposterous greenwash story that’s out there, someone is also re-inventing what business will be like in the new economy. Here’s to hope for the next decade…

For more of 3p’s highlights from 2009, check out the Top Five Startup Posts of the Year from yesterday. Plus, stay tuned tomorrow for the best overall stories of the year.

Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.

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