Do Corporate Greenwashing Scandals have a Shelf-Life?
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 15:26
The 2012 London Olympics, hosted in a stadium that IOC asserts is “as sustainable as it is stunning,” have brought unprecedented attention not just to the athletes competing for medals, but also to the corporate sponsors competing for air time. A number of tarnished reputations plague the corporate contestants. BP Global, Dow Chemical, and Rio Tinto top the list of what consumers may consider environmentally unfriendly Olympic sponsors. Thanks to a lively coalition of environmental activists, for a short while it was possible to vote on which of the three top contenders should win the “Greenwash Gold 2012” award. Rio Tinto brought home the gold. But how long will the collective memory of Greenwash Gold 2012 last? If the shared memory of environmental abuse itself is any indicator, “not that long” may be the best answer. The iconic image of the oil-slicked pelican (or sea turtle, or tern, or plover) no longer airs during prime time, but BP’s post-spill “public service” ads, featuring standard greenwashing fodder, mostly certainly do. Grandfatherly fishermen stroll along pristine beaches aside smiling BP executives night and day, apparently. BP’s website is quite literally awash with green, one of its less subtle marketing maneuvers. But it’s been more than two years since everyone from President Obama to the office gossip declared the Deepwater Horizon explosion “the worst environmental disaster in American history.” The green font on BP’s website waxes sentimental about the company’s “sustainability” practices, including desire “to be a safety leader … a world-class operator, a good corporate citizen and a great employer.” All this to “earn back trust and grow value.” After all, they’re one and the same; corporations that the public trusts do indeed grow their own value. If environmental activists want to stop them, then they have to keep greenwashing scandals from flying off...
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