Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Greenwashing: leveraging on our guilt & shame

Life was simple once: either something was allowed or it was not. Usually, the law defines what is allowed. Then ideology (eg, Politics, Religion) complicated matters for us: certain things that are allowed can still be morally wrong, albeit from that ideological perspective. The moment you think that you are acting politically correct, something new comes along to make you feel guilty again: it’s not green.

Early August 2021, a whistleblowing former sustainability executive claimed that her investment firm overstated its sustainable-investing efforts to investors. In reality, that investment firm struggled to define and implement an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy (WSJ). This practice of painting a “rosier-than-reality picture” is also known as greenwashing.

Greenwashing is a term that was invented in 1986 by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld. Back then, the term related to hotel industry practices that were designed to increase profit, and/or reduce expenses, while claiming to “save the environment” (eg, towels, water).

Late August 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as US federal prosecutors announced investigations into these greenwashing practices (WSJ). At some point in the future, these greenwashing practices will no longer be allowed, without telling the (greenwashing) marketing industry that such practices are morally corrupt.

Since 2019, I drive a Toyota hybrid which allows me to almost achieve 19 kilometers on 1 litre of petrol. I’m quite proud of my cumulative average. Nevertheless, the media have launched an attack against Toyota because it doesn’t join the electric vehicle (EV) market (eg, NYT-July 2021, ArsTechnica-July 2021). I’m glad they do not because their hybrid allows me to drive 700+ kilometres, which is enough for any situation.

The same happened with my previous car, a Mercedes diesel. Diesel was once viewed as the green alternative to petrol. Little is left of that reputation. The green marketing of Electric Vehicles vilified diesel engines. Nevertheless, the fuel economy of diesel is legendary high, and probably even better than my petrol hybrid. Sad stories about EV battery production and EV battery waste seldom get long & much media traction.

Oh well, my hybrid car is the main piece of luxury that’s left in my life. Some day, a subscription based car service may take over my ownership, which will increase my cash flow and reduce my expenses (sic!).

Oh Well (1969) by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac
artist, artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

I can’t help about the shape I’m in
I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin
But don’t ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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