Posts tagged with 'greenwashing'

Weekly Pulse: Single-Payer Bills Pass Vermont Senate, House

Posted Apr 27, 2011 @ 10:52 am by
Filed under: Health Care     Bookmark and Share

Creative Commons, Flickr, Jobs with JusticeBy Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Vermont state Senate passed legislation to create a single-payer health insurance system, Paul Waldman reports for TAPPED. Since the state House has already passed a similar bill, all that’s left to do is reconcile the two pieces of legislation before the governor signs it into law.

Waldman stresses that there are still many details to work out, including how the system will be funded. Vermont might end up with a system like France’s where everyone has basic public insurance, which most people supplement with additional private coverage. The most important thing, Waldman argues, is that Vermont is moving to sever the link between employment and health insurance.

Roe showdown

Anti-choicers are gunning for a Roe v. Wade showdown in the Supreme Court before Obama can appoint any more justices. At the behest of an unnamed conservative group, Republican state Rep. John LaBruzzo of Louisiana has introduced a bill that would ban all abortions, even to save the woman’s life. The original bill upped the anti-choice ante by criminalizing not only doctors who perform abortions, but also women who procure them. LaBruzzo has since promised to scale the bill back to just criminalizing doctors. This is all blatantly unconstitutional, of course,. but as Kate Sheppard explains in Mother Jones, that’s precisely the point:

The Constitution, of course, is exactly what LaBruzzo is targeting. He admits his proposal is intended as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy included the right to abortions in some circumstances. LaBruzzo says he’d like his bill to become law and “immediately go to court,” and he told a local paper that an unnamed conservative religious group asked him to propose the law for exactly that purpose.

Drug pushers in your living room

Martha Rosenberg poses a provocative question at AlterNet: Does anyone remember a time before “Ask Your Doctor” ads overran the airwaves, Internet, buses, billboards, and seemingly every other medium? Direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising has become so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it was illegal until the late ’90s. In the days before DTC, drug advertising was limited to medical journals, prescription pads, golf towels, and pill-shaped stress balls distributed in doctors’ offices–which makes sense. The whole point of making a drug prescription-only is to put the decision-making power in the hands of doctors. Now, drug companies advertise to consumers for the same reason that food companies advertise to children. It’s called “pester power.”

DTC drug ads encourage consumers to self-diagnose based on vague and sometimes nearly universal symptoms like poor sleep, daytime drowsiness, anxiety, and depression. Once consumers are convinced they’re suffering from industry-hyped constructs like “erectile dysfunction” and “premenstrual dysphoric disorder,” they’re going to badger their doctors for prescriptions.

That’s not to say that these terms don’t encompass legitimate health problems, but rather that DTC markets products in such vague terms that a lot of healthy people are sure to be clamoring for drugs they don’t need. Typically, neither the patient nor the doctor is paying the full cost of the drug, so patients are more likely to ask and doctors have little incentive to say no.

Greenwashing air fresheners

A reader seeks the counsel of Grist’s earthy advice columnist Umbra on the issue of air fresheners. Some of these odor-concealing aerosols are touting themselves as green for adopting all-natural propellants. Does that make them healthier, or greener? Only marginally, says Umbra. Air fresheners still contain formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, and other questionable chemicals.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Mulch: Green Daydreams? A Clean Gulf, Energy Efficiency, and More

Posted Aug 20, 2010 @ 10:55 am by
Filed under: Sustain, Uncategorized     Bookmark and Share

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Image via Flickr user Outsanity Photos, via Creative Commons LicenseYesterday, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) took Obama administration officials to task for encouraging Americans to believe that the majority of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico had dispersed.

“People want to believe that everything is OK and I think this report and the way it is being discussed is giving many people a false sense of confidence regarding the state of the Gulf,” Markey said.

Belief, after all, is powerful force.  As coal baron Don Blankenship says, “You have to have your own beliefs, your own core beliefs, your own strengths and do what you think is right. You can’t do what others believe is right, you have to do what you believe is right.”

But what if your beliefs, even those backed up by science, are wrong? If you believed government officials who reported the oil in the Gulf of Mexico had dispersed—wrong. If you believed McDonald’s or Sara Lee really was helping save the planet—wrong. (Does anyone actually believe that one?) And if you believed you were conserving tons of energy by flicking off the light switches when you left the room—wrong again! (more…)

Weekly Mulch: Market-Driven Sustainability

Posted Jul 24, 2009 @ 11:06 am by
Filed under: Uncategorized     Bookmark and Share

by Raquel Brown, TMC MediaWire Blogger

Last week, Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil and the American Automobile Association (AAA) announced new programs that promote sustainability and a cleaner planet. The three corporations may have turned over a new leaf, but their efforts may actually be a case of corporate greenwashing. In today’s economic climate, many companies are taking advantage of consumers that don’t have the funds to be choosy about the environmental-friendliness of their purchases.

Wal-Mart announced its plans to develop a sustainability index to measure the environmental impact of its products, establish international sustainability standards and offer transparency to consumers. This program, described by The American Prospect’s Alexandra Gutierrez as “nutrition labeling, but for the planet,” is very ambitious. Wal-Mart will work with a consortium of universities, retailers and government agencies to determine each products ranking over its life cycle, then relay that information back to consumers.

But when has Wal-Mart ever acted in the environment’s best interests? In a twopart blog for Sojourners, Tracey Bianchi writes skeptically about Wal-Mart’s ulterior motive, given the corporation’s reputation of using unethical business practices to maximize profits.

“Wal-Mart’s green claims are good, but the reality is that they are not a free ride to environmental bliss. They are, at best, a $400+ billion change in the way we do business in the global marketplace. At worst, they are greenwashing and a sort of salve to the part of our soul that silently moans, “’How you consume comes with a price tag that you cannot afford,’” Bianchi writes.

But at the end of the day, Wal-Mart’s true intentions are irrelevant, says Jodi Kasten in Salon. As the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart has an incredible amount of influence over which products are made and sold. The company can use its clout and market-driven incentives to curb pollution and implement environmental changes. This approach could yield more effective results than climate change legislation. Retailers who might be willing to flout the law aren’t willing to risk losing customers.

“Uncovering greenwashing is an Olympic sport amongst environmental activists. I’m all for that. I think that abuse of the systems which are already in place give consumers a false sense of environmental awareness. But, we do have to consider that ANY system of sustainability information is better than what we have now, which is nothing,” Kasten writes.

Climate criminal ExxonMobil pledged to invest $600 million in alternative-energy technology last week. After adamantly refusing to adopt alternative-energy for years, the oil giant is partnering with Synthetic Genomics to create an algae-based biofuel. Does this partnership mark a paradigm shift for ExxonMobil? Hardly.

As Grist’s Joseph Romm reports, ExxonMobil is still funding climate change skeptics, even after promising to no longer finance organizations “whose positions on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner,” as stated in the company’s 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report.

ExxonMobil also helped fund Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada’s study condemning green jobs, as Osha Gray Davidson notes for Mother Jones. Many conservative Congressmen, most recently Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), have used Calzada’s study to back their opposition to the ACES bill.

Finally, AAA is now extending its services to cover bicycles. Despite a long history of lobbying against the environment, including strong opposition to public transportation funding and criticizing The Clean Air Act, the company has experienced a sudden change of heart. According to Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones, it all breaks down to competition. The Better World Club (BWC) rivals AAA as an environmentally friendly auto club that provides services that range from discounts on hybrid car rentals to eco-travel services. For the past seven years, BWC offered the nation’s only roadside assistance program for bicycles.

BWC has tried to distance themselves from AAA, claiming that they “are nothing like … other auto clubs,” and even linking to information about AAA’s anti-environment lobbying. “We have the same reliable roadside assistance, but we have a unique policy agenda.” AAA stands to gain new customers who use alternative modes of transportation and muscle out an organization that had good intentions from the start.

In the long run, one green initiative doesn’t make a corporation environmentally sustainable. While these companies try to shine green in the public eye, it remains to be seen as to whether they will actually advocate for positive change, or continue to push their own political agenda.

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