Eco-friendly products are nothing but marketing gimmicks
Eco-friendly products, services are nothing but excellent marketing strategies
Contemporary media is awash with messages on “intelligent buying” and how it can save the planet. Buried in these messages are nuggets of environmental wisdom— ideas on energy efficiency and organic materials and concerns about rainforest depletion and chemical toxicity. These messages leave no doubt in the viewer’s mind that the upper and middle classes of consumers worldwide are dedicated to the cause of environmentalism. However, this shift to environmentconscious mode is merely an illusion.
While advertisements wax eloquent on the virtues of companies that plant 10 saplings for every tree of “conscious timber” they bring to the market, the real cost of felling a large tree is an entire ecosystem of birds, insects, small ani- mals, epiphytes and so on. But this fact is kept hidden from the consumer. Planet earth has consistently lost its greenery ever since human beings discovered the power of fossil fuels. But our choices in “green products” seem to have increased considerably only in the past few decades. From “eco- friendly air- conditioners” to herbal shampoos, from “green realty” to “nature-wise bottled water” and ecotourism, there is a green choice in most purchasing decisions that we make. Beaming with confidence by this magic of demand and supply are proponents of free- market economics who claim that all environmental damages can be offset if consumers demand eco- friendly products and producers oblige them.
But in reality very few things change behind the scenes in production. Producers label or project objects as “green” with the sole purpose of maximising profits through sales, which is dubbed “greenwashing”. The scope of greenwash is amazing and its power intense at this moment when our collective sense of guilt about what we are doing to our planet is on the rise.
So what, if we are running up against the limits of the planet because we buy too much? Buy again, only buy “green” this time, and all problems are solved. In preaching this philosophy, greenwash assumes a certain imbecility in the general population, and so far, it has gotten away with that assumption, often leaving us teary-eyed at its images of a green, techno-fantasy future where human society enjoys abundance without so much as touching the natural environment.
Capitalist consumerism has long trained our brains into accepting that its reductive logic is the only logical paradigm. People presenting such illogic as replacing one tree with 10 saplings are aware of the limitations of these numbers, but our training as consumers has been so intense ( an individual views 3,000- 4,000 advertisements per day on an average; the advertising industry in the US was worth $153 billion in 2013) that if our conscience is even mildly disturbed by the thought that global consumerism is trashing the environment, a little bit of greenwash alleviates it.
Greenwash is immensely pervasive—