Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is the compostable plastic bottle half full or half empty?

Musings of a conflicted Greenmom...

Corporations and greenness. It’s sort of a dilemma. I’m not talking about greenwashing, exactly, but a new and emerging kind of behavior we’re seeing more and more of: corporations and big brands making green gestures, but still being corporations and big brands.

It’s happening on a lot of levels: there’s the sheer silliness of the Del Monte bananas in the plastic package…while the company trumpets that the plastic wrapper actually is more green because it controls the ripening process. Erm…I don’t buy it. And then there are the “Cuties” mandarin oranges, with a new blitz of commercials talking about how they are great for kids to snack on because they are “made for kids.” On the one hand, hurrah that fresh fruit is getting press; on the other, it’s giving them this whole processed commercialized feel. I’m a little conflicted.

Another source of my conflictedness is Clorox. They have stepped forward and promised to disclose all their ingredients. Great news. Until you see the list, and how full of crazed toxic unpronounceable ingredients its products are.

Then there’s Wal-Mart. I’m the kind of person who watches movies like Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price and does Google searches for “Wal-Mart Sucks” just to see how many hits I’d get. (Answer: about a quarter million.) Then I hear news like this: Walmart Becomes The New EPA, Bans PBDE Fire Retardant. On the one hand, hurrah—good for them. On the other, there’s this part of me that goes, “okay, if the big corporations do all this good stuff on their own, how are we going to convince government to regulate anything? Which is dopey, I know. Less dopey is my question about whether Wal-Mart is also, in its efforts to Lead The Green Pack, working on equality in the workplace, cutting out the union-busting crap, and providing adequate health care and benefits for its employees.

I guess, for me, it in the end isn’t that complicated. I’m glad Wal-Mart is being more responsible about the fire-retardants used in products they sell. But I still won’t shop there. I’m glad Clorox is divulging all its ingredients. But I didn’t buy their products before, and I shall continue to do just fine with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils for my cleaning products. And I will continue to eat bananas.

But no way am I buying them in plastic.

--Jenn the Greenmom


Aussiemumbecc said...

couldn't agree with you more, we don't have Wal-Mart in Australia but we have Coles and Woolworths which are two stores very similar to Wal-Mart.

Have you seen the movie Food Inc? It's the most eye opening movie I have ever seen and I have since watched it twice more...very interesting and sad at the same time.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

After watching Food Inc, my HUSBAND (who is very Manly Meat-Eater Guy) even stopped asking me to buy more beef. Fairly horrifying.

Terri said...

I feel conflicted like this all the time! It always makes me feel better to know I'm not the only conflicted one out there.

And I agree... I'm never, ever buying bananas in plastic!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Completely agree with you. I think the fact that these big corporations are stepping up on the green front is a sign that our diligent efforts are paying off, but it's still not going to change what/where I buy. Vinegar and baking soda work just fine.

Green Bean said...

I think it is ultimately a good thing. Even if corporations' "green" acts are still a far cry from what we would like them to be, they are still a step in the right direction. AND, it shows you the power of voting with your dollar/fork/etc. Being green has become so politicized. Republicans brought back styrafoam and ditched the biodegradable flatware and cups in Congress' cafeteria just to make a point. The fact remains - the government is missing the point but the businesses are finally getting it. Americans do care about the environment and eventually, we'll get there.

Amber said...

Ahh the wonders of greenwashing, this post makes me wonder if I'm still a surface greenie... I thought I was pretty in tune with what was going on but maybe not.

Here is my latest frustration, "green" plastic water bottles with a smaller lid. Are you kidding me?!? Dont' buy a plastic bottle, done.

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I don't think Walmart is trying to lead the green pack. I think they dislike navigating a patchwork of state legislation. And they have the power to tell suppliers to give them what they want so they can sell a single product nationwide. The kudos should go to the voters and advocacy groups who got their state legislatures to pass regulation when the fed gov couldn't.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm an idealist, but I'd like to think that consumers are forcing companies like Wal-Mart to change. We can't wait for the gov't to step in and protect us! The more educated & demanding we become as consumers, the more these companies will have to change if they want to continue to thrive. We have to say, "We won't buy if you don't change!"


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