Humanity is currently at the mercy of a new and fearful outbreak of Eco-Lie.
No, I am not referring to the nasty, disease-inducing bacteria, but to companies that put a very dubious green spin on their products and processes by adding the word ‘eco’.
For me ‘eco’ means that something is ecological, that it is in tune with the sensitive ecosystem we call Earth. Altering a product to make it a little bit greener is commendable, but that does not make it ‘ecological’. I also want to expose other wrongful uses of the words: environmentally-friendly, green, renewable, etc. So, below are the main perpetrators of this latest Eco-Lie outbreak.
I will add to this category as I come across fresh offenders, but please, feel free to drop any Eco-Lies you come across in the comments box or via the facebook page. I will be more than happy to expose them for the scams that they are.
Eco-Lie #1: Renewable Jet Fuel?
Boing says this about its new jumbo jet, “ The new 747-8 Freightliner flies to its international air show debut in historic fashion, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Paris Air Show using a renewable aviation jet fuel. This is the world’s first transatlantic crossing of a commercial jetliner using biologically derived fuel. Each of the airplane’s four-GE GEnx-2B engines is powered by a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85 percent traditional kerosene fuel (Jet-A)”.
Ok Boing, you’re obviously trying to put a green spin on things, but don’t take us for fools: Renewable jet fuel? A biologically derived fuel? Erm, didn’t you say something about this being 85 percent kerosene? Please. Most of us are aware that biofuels arenot really green. We also fear that should the aviation industry turn to this ‘clean’ form of energy, the problem will get a lotworse.
So Boing, you have made the Eco-Lie wall. Well done. An aeroplane fuel made of 85 percent kerosene is anything but ‘renewable’. When you manage to fly a plane on nothing but the massive amount of waste created by the airlines; then we’ll talk.
Photo courtesy of iknowmeinuk
Eco-Lie#2: Eco Cars? I Don’t Filppin’ Think So!
On a couple of occasions recently, while trundling along minding my own business, I have noticed that written on the back of the (painfully normal) car in front is the word ‘eco’. Well, the profanities issuing forth from my mouth at this point are akin to those normally reserved for middle lane drivers and those who don’t signal at roundabouts (Oh, I can feel my blood boiling right now). Ok, well maybe the word ‘eco’ in connection with a car doesn’t make me that mad; but it does still make be blink twice in incredulity.
What on Earth is ‘eco’ about a car? Yes they are necessary, yes I own one, and yes a little Fiat 500 is better for the planet than aRange Rover. However, all cars pollute the atmosphere, require enormous amounts of raw materials and energy to manufacture and when they reach the end of their relatively short life (around 8 years or 150,000 miles) they require a huge amount of infrastructure to dispose of properly – which, admittedly has improved in recent years.
I agree that it’s a good thing these manufacturers are addressing their products’ impact on the planet, but calling cars green is stretching it at best; calling them ‘eco’ is just way off the mark. And also (yes I know, one shouldn’t start a sentence with ‘and’, but I’m having a rant so leave me alone) … where was I? Oh yes. And also, when they add this word ‘eco’ they follow it up with some marketing spiel like, “because we feel you shouldn’t have to compromise performance just because you want a car that’s kind to the planet, blah, blah, blah”. Ok then, if you’re not sacrificing performance; why not make all of your cars like this’?
In fact, don’t take my word for it, here’s some sales pitch from Vauxhall, written verbatim – but watch for the twist at the end: “We all love cars and we all love to drive. We still want performance, practicality and a pleasurable experience behind the wheel. The big question is – can you have both?” Erm, both? Don’t you mean all three? Blimey, who writes this stuff? More to the point, who checks it? Idiots.
Now I’m sure that most of the owners of these cars feel they are doing their bit by buying an ‘eco’ model, and perhaps they are. I must also praise some manufacturers for really making an effort to improve their impact on the planet. However, I just can’t agree that a word essentially meaning ‘in harmony with nature’ is used to describe a car. Hyundai, for instance, call their lower emissions range Blue Drive. Nice.
So, that being said, am I simply getting hung up on a single word, when the concept is the same? You betcha I am! My problem is what that word conveys, and when it’s used so out of context, then I believe it to be misleading. Yes, I do have a problem with that.
One last thing on the subject of cars: Is it me, or is the BMW X6 by far the most pretentious car on the road, mostly driven only by guys with a massive ego and a tiny… conscience?
So there. Another one to add to the great Eco-Lie outbreak. Next time, I shall look at an Eco-Lie that anyone who has stayed in a hotel cannot have missed. Can you guess what it is?
Eco-Lie#3: The Great Hoteliers’ Contradiction
If you’ve stayed in a hotel at any time over the last 20 years or so, you will no doubt have seen a notice in the bathroom that looks something like this:
Although I agree this is a commendable move by the hotels, the cynic in me has always believed that many are simply doing this to lower their laundry bills while scoring some easy ‘green’ points at the same time. My real bugbear however is when, literally a few paces away from a notice such as the one above, you find this:
So what are we looking at here (apart from a hotel coffee maker)? Well, to begin with you may notice that there’s no choice but to use a disposable cup, which is also wrapped in that most despised material: polyethylene. Second, the coffee machine that this (apparently environmentally conscious) hotel has purchased for every room employs a single-use plastic tray to put the coffee in. That’s right folks, each and every individual coffee sachet comes in it own disposable plastic tray. Disgraceful.
So as you can see below, the waste created by just one cup of coffee somewhat makes the whole saving resources thing look like a bit of a scam.
The waste created by one cup of hotel coffee.
Unfortunately, my job requires me to stay in quite a few hotels (not very green I know, but I’m working on that) and this is by no means a one off. This scenario is repeated over and over again; in fact it’s what gave me the original idea for the Great Eco-Lie Outbreak.
In contrast, some hotels do get it right. The picture below, for example, shows reusable china mugs that are not wrapped in plastic, plus the coffee machine uses a plastic tray that can be used repeatedly in the coffee machine. That’s much better, don’t you think?
Professing your care for the planet via the obligatory ‘please reuse your towels and save resources’ notice is fine, but these hotels who then use so many disposable components in their coffee machines are just being hypocritical.
So next time you stay in a hotel and witness an Eco-Lie such as this, do have a word, and let the managers know we are on to them.
Eco-Lie#4: To Help Protect the Environment? Oh Please…
Ok then, this is a very simple Eco-Lie, but one which I couldn’t ignore (as it’s on a van parked in my street).
Telecommunications company, BT, are putting these stickers on the back of their vans in an attempt to convince us they’re protecting the environment by limiting their vehicles to 70mph.
Erm, sorry? I may have missed something here, but aren’t all vehicles on UK roads limited to 70mph? You know; by that little-understood phenomenon known as the speed limit? It’s much more likely that BT simply are trying to protect their fuel bills.
If they’re really concerned about protecting the environment, perhaps they should consider limiting their vehicles to 50mph and adding a rev limiter as well. Agreed, this may not prove too popular with the drivers, but we’re not trying to protect them, are we?
I suppose that – in principle – the idea of limiting vans to 70mph is a good idea. At least it would protect us from glancing up at a rearview mirror filled with the business-end of a commercial van as it tries to stake a claim to the fast lane of the motorway. However, for BT to stick this on the back of its vehicles is blatant greenwashing. Please guys, we’re not that naive. It’s fair enough for a company to reduce costs, but claiming it’s for environmental reasons is just taking the mick.
Still; at least their vans are faster than their broadband.
So as the Eco-Lie wall of shame claims another victim, it’s time to don my ‘Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker hat and partake in some snooping to uncover more instances of gratuitous greenwashing. In the meantime, will someone please give BT a ring and let them know how silly they look?
Can I also just thank my six-year old daughter for her covert mission to snap this picture for me without the owner of the van noticing. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a lovely guy, but he may have raised an eyebrow had he seen me snapping away at the rear of his vehicle. Well done Sweetie, good job.
Photo courtesy of My Little Girl
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