Green Washing: A few things you should know before you, "Believe in Love"

February 9, 2016

 

     If you saw the Superbowl like most Americans last night then you most likely didn't miss the highly anticipated halftime show. If you did miss it, this year Beyonce, Coldplay and Bruno Mars were the main headliners. The show was psychedelic, colorful and clearly pointed at a very specific agenda. Beyonce and Coldplay are both Global Citizen Ambassadors, which if you're not familiar with you can read about it here.

 

     The main message of the whole campaign was, “Believe in Love.” Coldplay used the Flower of Life, which is generally catergorized by New-Age writers as one of the more important symbols of the human race and explains the origins of humanity. Jesus Christ not included. How incredible is it to have these big, bold messages be broadcasted to millions of people? Finally, our goals have aligned and we have the world's attention, right?

 

     Unfortunately, when you peel back the layers, the true nature of the fanfare is revealed...consumerism, capitalism and the worship of the almighty dollar. While some messages are beautiful, there is an ugly shadow cast over the entire event...a shadow in the general form of the Pepsi brand.  Corporate companies like Pepsi, Coke, Exxon, Visa, are some of the leading forces in wreaking havoc on the planet and human health. These corporate entities have seamingly endless dollars to throw at advertising campaigns - $170,000 per second - to make us think they are a “sustainable” company. Realistically, there is nothing green about Pepsi and everyone who has consumed a Pepsi product intrinsically knows that. They've got major marketing campaigns talking about healthy living and climate change, yet nothing about the products they sell exhibit care for those matters. Here are 3 simple reasons that stand out to me:

 

1.  Pepsico was the 3rd largest donor - behind the pesticide and biotech giants Monsanto and DuPont - to contribute to anti-Prop 37 propaganda. This was a ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods in California, allowing consumers to know exactly what's in their food. 

 

2.  Doritos - owned by Pepsico - has their hand in large-scale deforestation across Southeast Asia to make way for massive palm oil plantations. This has a major impact on the precious ecosystems and the communities that live around these plantations.

3.  Additionally - and mostly obviously - the flagship beverages Pepsico produces are not good for us, no matter what. Sure a little bit here and there is not going to kill you, but the fact is, all of this reckless behavior serves what purpose? What does it get us? Obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay? Obesity-related health care costs are estimated at $190 billion annually in America, representing 5%-10% of all medical spending. Studies have shown that people who consume sugar drinks regularly—one to two cans a day or more—have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely drink soda. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. No matter which way you flip the coin, this is irresponsible behavior from a company that projects sustainability and love in their advertisements.

     In order to stay relevant and current these companies find big ways to team up with ideas that are “feel good” or mainstream at that current time. Essentially, they are subliminally tricking the average person who may not be paying close attention into associating positive thoughts about their otherwise negative product or company. It's called green washing. These obnoxious campaigns are dangerous because it keeps the wool pulled over people's eyes and this allows them to continue to do whatever it is they are doing without being held accountable.

 

    I'm trying to remain optimistic because the message is exciting and we've certainly got people's attention. Is it possible for companies like Pepsico to make change and make strides towards a greener more sustainable business model? Of course, but if the Superbowl or Pepsico really wanted to make huge strides towards bettering the world, they would have donated their resources and money towards the actual goals of the globe. They would realize what major negative health and climate implications their existence has and would cease production. They would admit their faults and reconfigure their entire business model to one that would not destroy the planet. Start over, from the ground up.

 

     We can raise awareness all we want, but if we throw giant parties that cost millions of dollars and team up with the UN's Global Citizens - who seem to be ok with Pepsico sponsorship - where are our priorities? Change requires all of us to truly change from the inside out, and a big halftime show - while a great start - is not the only answer to our problems. These multi-national, corporate entities who've relentlessly lied to us and created major problems for the world are in the pursuit of financial gain and power. How can they be trusted?  What can we do to ensure we're not going to be lied to by corporate entities all over again? How can we get our message out there without playing into the hands of media moguls and the corporate dollar? Or is the idea that we exploit them in return? Do we use them for their resourses to get where we want to go? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this? Do you agree, disagree?

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