The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Brazos County officials are distributing free backpacks, school supplies and gift cards for K-12 students on July 12 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bryan High Silver Campus Cafeteria.
Brazos County to distribute free school supplies
‘Back to School Bash’ invites K-12 families on July 12
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 11, 2024
Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) drives to the basket during Texas A&Ms game against Nebraska in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
How Tyrece Radford can catch the attention of NBA scouts
Roman Arteaga, Sports Writer • July 10, 2024

After 5 years of college basketball at Virginia Tech and Texas A&M, Tyrece Radford is furthering his athletic career with the San Antonio...

Craig Reagans 1973 brown Mach 1 Mustang features custom stickers of Craig and his wife, and is completely rebuilt from the ground up. The interior was completely torn out and replaced with new dashboard and radio.
Compassion in the car community
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • July 9, 2024

This past Sunday, Cars and Coffee welcomed exactly one car: a sleek, brown Mustang that stood alone like a lone ranger in the Wild West. This...

Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
Analysis: Chancellor Sharp’s retirement comes with new dilemmas
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 2, 2024

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced Monday he will be retiring on June 30, 2025.  A figure notorious in state politics,...

Greenwashing: Corporate tree hugging may be only skin deep

Photo by Creative Commons

Coined in the 1980s, the term “greenwashing” describes a company’s marketing policies to portray itself or its products as deceptively eco-friendly.
Ever since the world became aware of the need to reduce waste, companies have employed greenwashing to trick well-meaning customers into buying their not-so-green products. This worrying practice has gained impetus in recent years concomitantly with the rise of the ecologically sensitive consumer.
Brands use a variety of techniques to hoodwink customers to paint a picture of sustainability. A widespread tactic used is green packaging. Products are wrapped in unnecessary plastic layers plastered with green graphics and plant motifs. However, if the brand cared about the environment, they would use minimal packaging. This overcompensation is a reliable way for a consumer to tell if the product is good for the environment.
Another way for brands to polish their “green sheen,” another term for greenwashing, is to use misleading words like bioplastic or biodegradable plastics — plant-based plastic goods. Many consumers buy plastic bags, plates and cups with these labels thinking that they’re doing their bit for the environment while in reality, this is far from the truth. Most bioplastics require a particular set of conditions to decompose, like oxygen, which may not occur in a landfill or the ocean. Some bioplastics also break into smaller fragments, making them more lethal than regular plastic items. It is, therefore, important for customers to watch out for such words and always look them up before making a choice.
In addition to boosting sales, greenwashing also serves another purpose: it creates a distraction. It diverts attention away from the company’s real, problematic emission practices. An excellent example of this would be the campaign against plastic straws. The frenzied shunning of plastic straws, bolstered by graphics of choking marine animals, gripped America and indeed much of the world. This drive was well-intentioned, but its effects may not have been as fruitful as one might think. Many brands and establishments scored green points in the public eye by rolling out paper straws. What people might not realize here is that, in many cases, paper straws take more resources to manufacture and also take considerable time to decompose.
Jumping on the bandwagon, Starbucks, the bane of hapless turtles globally, said their outlets would phase out plastic straws by 2020. Their move is in the right direction, yes. However, it still does not significantly mitigate the root cause: their overwhelming dependence of single-use plastics. I understand that this reliance on single-use plastic is difficult to reduce given their ubiquity. But I think that customers should know that this move does little for the environment while portraying Starbucks as a leatherback turtle’s best friend.
Corporate carbon footprints today would give Bigfoot a run for his money, and this is why they must be held accountable. We must learn to spot and call out greenwashing by brands trying to change their image. Greenwashing also diverts attention away from smaller, greener brands who are trying to make a difference; ones who do not have the resources to run massive PR campaigns like others.
While it is essential to recognize the corporate contribution to global warming, blaming only them would be wrong. We might think that we’re single-handedly saving birds by buying faux feather boas. However, we must realize that what harms the environment the most is our excessive consumerism, hence focusing on lowering consumption and wastage is best for the ecosystem. Reducing one’s carbon footprint is a difficult journey. However, it does not stop at making responsible consumer choices; that is only the beginning.

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