Tree Huggers was developed by Brooklyn artist, Tilton Widrow. This installation, which was part of Human Impacts Institute’s10 Days of Climate Action, was placed around McCarren Park, uses Frito Lays’ Sun Chip packaging to highlight the hypocrisy of corporations and their greenwashing campaigns. Sun Chips once promoted a biodegradable bag and released it with a major campaign. As you may remember, the bags were a major mess due to the absurd volume the bags created and the biodegradable claim they made. Frito Lays also failed to mention that only one size came in the new environmentally friendly form. In the end, the bags were scrapped and replaced with the style that can now be seen wrapped around trees, on store shelves, and in the world of Tilton Widro.
To accompany Tilton’s artwork, Brendan Schoenman, HII Youth Leadership Coordinator, and I set up a display to help create awareness about greenwashing. Greenwashing has been defined as “a superficial or insincere display of concern for the environment that is shown by an organization”. In an ordinary trip to the grocery store, we are constantly bombarded with marketing schemes promoting “all-natural”, “green”, “eco-friendly”, “non-toxic”, or “organic” products. What does this all mean? Who should I trust? TheEnvironmental Working Group (EWG) and The Good Guide provide free online resources to help consumers answer these particular questions. Both organizations have developed ranking systems to rate all kinds of products, from cleaners to cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group concentrates on toxicity and human health, while the Good Guide uses a three tiered ranking system that takes into account health, the environment, and society. These organizations have uncovered the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can even get the Good Guide mobile app for those times when you are in a rush at the store.
Terra Choice outlines 7 sins that indicate a company is greenwashing. The 7 sins of greenwashing are:
·Sin of the hidden trade-off
·Sin of no proof
·Sin of vagueness
·Sin of irrelevance
·Sin of lesser of two evils
·Sin of fibbing
·Sin of worshiping false labels
This proves that you cannot blindly trust any company, even if they promote themselves as “green” or “environmentally friendly”. Thankfully organizations like the Good Guide and the Environmental Working Group create the necessary transparency so that consumers can make informed decisions about the products they chose to endorse with their money.
Remember to vote for the world you want with every purchase you make!
– By Dominique Murray, Ecopreneurs Project Coordinator