A few weeks ago I was looking for another 5K to join, maybe at the end of April. I was surprised to see one of the “eco-friendly” events was connected to Dow Chemical. Seriously? Run for Water. Clean water is VERY important – and I can get behind the cause of clean water to those who don’t have it. I’ve mentioned before that Americans have the luxury of clean water, FROM A FAUCET, that they can drink and bathe in with no ill effects.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be too judgmental about Dow Chemical. I’m prejudiced, maybe, because of their past implications in environmental toxicity and human suffering (you know, like Agent Orange “the government made us do it!”). Or their continued role with plastics (some of which end up in our oceans or are downcycled, at best in the developing world.) Should I applaud companies that were once known as the big baddies of pollution embracing “green” causes?
You know, like when Burt’s Bees, once known for their very little plastic (caps on toner bottles ONLY), and aluminum, recycled paperboard and glass packaging). A few years ago (before being purchased by Clorox) 80% of the company was bought by a private equity firm, many of their holdings being in packaging. This is when I noticed an increase in their distribution (as well as the repackaging of many of their products into plastic containers.
Burt’s Bees is still one of the highest rated companies when it comes to their environmental friendliness and natural ingredients. (You used to be able to EAT most of their products, they were that safe. Seriously.) If I remember correctly, when they were purchased by Clorox, Clorox announced that they would be taking a cue from Burt’s Bees and greening up some of their every-day products.
Greenwashing is a big business. I’m sure that large companies who probably didn’t care at all 20 years ago about their environmental impact care now, and maybe that is making a difference, despite their continuing to play a part in polluting the earth. Global warming aside, we can agree that clean water is an issue, and industrial pollution and insufficient sanitation is a measurable fact that has an impact on human society and the food sources we depend on.
On this Earth Day, I’m trying to be mindful of my consumption. I’m surrounded by plastic containers, and wonder what more I can do to make my positive impact more than it is. The key, as it always has been, is to curb consumption. Don’t buy what you don’t need or won’t use. Don’t buy what is unnecessary. (Will a good kitchen knife, kept in great shape, with some knife skills classes if you’re not skilled, do better than a handful of patented gadgets that all do something that you can do with one good knife?) Think about where everything in your life will end up one day. Landfill? Ocean? Your children’s house? Your garden? India? China? Out of sight shouldn’t equal out of mind.
You can’t consume your way out of consuming. Every choice we make has an impact, even if we don’t see it.