Greenwashing

Here's a view of the ice cream freezer at my local Whole Foods, taken last week.


In case it's hard to see, that product on the right is a 3.6 ounce container of Ben and Jerry's. Yes, you read it correctly, 3.6 ounces.


To put it into perspective, that little container of ice cream is about what you would get in a single scoop at a Ben and Jerry's store. You would need to buy 17.8 of them to have the equivalent amount of ice cream that you get in traditional half-gallon container. It's the most expensive ice cream in Whole Foods. On a per-ounce basis, it's more than 3 times as costly as the least expensive brand (Pierre's).

But this isn't a post about price. If people want to spend money on premium ice cream, that's their choice, and Ben and Jerry's is good stuff, don't get me wrong. This post is about the environmental unfriendliness of products like these. It would be easy to write it off as corporate bastardism, but Ben and Jerry's markets itself as an environmentally conscious company. They even have an Environmental Activism section on their website to tell you all about it.

Why do companies do stuff like this? Why do oil companies spend money marketing themselves as green when the reality is far from it? Why does Starbucks talk up fair-trade coffee when they could be buying so much more? Do companies brag about being sustainable and socially conscious to cover-up some other not-very-socially conscious parts of the business? Do they do it because it's good for sales? or because they genuinely care and think that something is better than nothing?

1 comments:

    On February 04, 2010 austin said...

    the most egregious example is individually wrapped tic tacs.
    http://www.amazon.com/Tic-Tac-Silvers-Orange-Boxes/dp/B0016A1JQ2