Tyson Greenwashing

Green washing is becoming a serious problem that many people are not aware of. Meat producers such as Tyson have done this in the past with chicken. The company advertised the meat they produced, as “all natural” but was the exact opposite. In the Tyson factory, chickens were fed corn that has been genetically modified which is definitely not natural. Also, the chickens were treated with antibiotics and injected with artificial growth hormones to make them larger quicker. Tyson falsely labeled the packages of the chicken and advertised to the public that the chicken was free of antibiotics and was all-natural. The case against Tyson began in 2007 when the United States Department of Agriculture discovered the use of gentamicin and ionophores in the process of raising chickens. These are two antibiotics that prevent the chickens from dying raising the profitability of the company. Eventually, Tyson was forced to change the label of the packaging and also sued by competitors such as Perdue and Sanderson Farms Inc. Although most of the meat producers in the industry use antibiotics, they do not label them as “free of antibiotics.” Tyson’s deceptive marketing strategy falsely informs consumers which can subtract business from producers that are actually truthful in their labeling. The increased competition is not fair for ethical producers in the same industry but especially for the consumer spending money on products that are actually undesired. The specific example of Tyson green washing their products is very significant because Tyson is an enormous company being one of the worlds largest meat processors and the second largest chicken producer in the United States. Therefore, the general population is relying and trusting one company with their health and money. Green washing has many negative impacts to society and the population as a whole and needs to be broadcasted more to the public because not a lot of people are aware this is an issue.




Worn Wear

This blog post is long overdue, but on February 16th I had the pleasure of attending of attending a talk on the College’s campus featuring representatives from Patagonia as well as PLAN (The Post-Landfill Action Network) about personal activism. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the entire event, but from the hour or so that I was there I was moved in such an incredible way by the passion that was shown for the environment.

During the time that I was there, policy and the role of government was a major talking point. The current administration does not have a good track record for keeping the environments safety in mind while making policies. Issues such as the Endangered Species Act being under fire and the Dakota Access Pipeline given the go ahead show that the environment is the least of the Trump administration’s worries.

I think the most important part of this lecture was the fact that the speakers acknowledged that there is hope and that we can bridge the disconnect between people to create a movement to show that citizens are concerned about the environment and citizens expect their government to be concerned about the environment as well. The most powerful moment of the lecture for me was singing a song called “Jumbo the Elephant”. This song was about an elephant and a mayor, but the message of the song was much bigger. It was saying that people who are held down by a higher political power still have power. Essentially, there is power in numbers and if citizens want to enact change they much work together to show that their power is greater than that of the higher political powers.

Another important talking point of the night was the Worn Wear program itself. While I was unable to stay for the entire Worn Wear presentation, I still learned a few really interesting facts. The Worn Wear program is a program run by the brand Patagonia, which is a family owned business that started in 1973. The super cool thing about Patagonia is that it is still a privately owned business and is still run by the original family that started it all. The Work Wear program was started to repair items to try to keep clothing items from ending up in a landfill if something was wrong with the item.

It was incredible to hear the stories of people bringing in a piece of clothing that has once been their mothers or a piece that has traveled with them everywhere that they have been. Worn Wear is fixing these clothing items so people are able to hang on to these memories for even longer. This program is all about sustainability, repair, and reuse, all of which are incredibly important to keeping textile waste out of landfills and other dumping grounds.

Overall, this lecture was such a great experience. All of the speakers were so passionate about what they do and it was really inspiring. Personally, I believe that there were two big takeaways from this lecture, the first being that we can only enact change by coming together as one unit and the second being there’s not need to throw something away if there’s still live in that product.

Greenwashing and the Veil of American Consumerism

As stated eloquently in the documentary Food Inc., the American food industry casts a veil over  the public perception of how our food and other products are grown, engineered, and transported for our consumption.  Although this veil may be comprehensible to individuals who are well informed on these common practices of the American food industry, most “green-washing” eludes the comprehension of even the most informed consumer.

To view an example green-washing relative to our lives in and around downtown Charleston,  I have decided to examine Harris Teeter, a popular grocery store to measure the presence of any green-washing in their public image.

As far as the local selection of grocery stores is concerned,  Harris Teeter sticks out as a popular, upscale supermarket with prime locations throughout the city (including the only grocery store with a close proximity to downtown).  While other local competitors like Earthfare and Whole Foods curb the market for green/organic shopping, Harris Teeters’ public image is one of diverse food choices, both conventional and organic, as well as a standard selection of common groceries that are easily attainable at any supermarket.  However, with this well-rounded image, there are still instances of green-washing the image of the chain as a whole:


In the article above, the EPA has recognized Harris Teeter for it sustainability practices by cutting the emissions output of its commercial services, transport, and refrigeration.  While this is a step forward for both the environment, as well as Harris Teeter’s image, many of the products they sell may tell a different story:


As cited by the World Wildlife Federation, Harris Teeter, along with many other grocery chains (including many other chains which have a local presence in Charleston) have received criticism for their carrying of toilet tissues which have led to the destruction of rain forests and other ecosystems which are home to many endangered species throughout the world.  While this revelation is certainly not limited to Harris Teeter alone, the manner in which they build a public image on certain environmental aspects while selling a product which does otherwise can be viewed with due criticism.  With this insight, it can be concluded that while many brands can be accused of green-washing individual products with misleading packaging and other perceived ecological benefits, the image of the business selling the products can be just as susceptible to these practices.

Huggies Greenwashing

Disposable products that are intended for a one time use take up a huge amount of space in landfills. One product that non-parents forget about would be disposable diapers. Parents have the option of using cloth diapers to save money and help the environment, but how many actually do this? The concept of a cloth diaper is out dated and inconvenient for the typical busy parent. Disposable diapers take 450 years to decompose and a single baby can use up to 3360 diapers in a year. What can parents who do not wish to use cloth diapers do to help reduce the amount of diapers that end up in landfills? Huggies has a line of diapers called “Huggies Green and Natural”. When a consumer sees the words “green” or “natural” mentioned in a product, they will likely automatically assume that the product is better for the environment. If a product is being marketed as “natural”, then it must decompose at a faster rate, right? Wrong. The diapers are made from organic cotton and the packaging is made from only 20% post-consumer recycled materials. Many companies use 100% post-consumer recycled materials so it is possible for Huggies to do the same for their diapers, especially when they are advertising a product as “green”. Due to this marketing strategy, consumers may think that they are doing something good by buying this product as opposed to normal diapers that may be more cost efficient. When in reality, these are still disposable diapers. These diapers are not biodegradable and will still take 450 years to decompose in a landfill. The misleading name could convince consumers that they are helping the environment by purchasing this product, but in reality, the product is greenwashed and does not actually help reduce the amount of time the diaper spends decomposing in a landfill. This product is an example of greenwashing because it uses the product name to convince naive parents that the diapers are better for the environment when they are actually just a diaper made of organic cotton that still take 450 years to decompose.




Greenwashing in Everyday Life

Following the discussion in class last week on green washing, I decided to do some research to understand it a little better, as I did not have a lot of previous knowledge on the subject. While doing this research, I came across a link labeled “The Top 25 Green Washed Products in America” which was published by BusinessPundit.com.

While reading the article, I was surprised to see that Herbal Essences hair products were on the list. I have been using Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners for years, and loved that they were supposedly “natural” and  sometimes “truly organic” products. However, according to this article, Herbal Essences contains chemicals including lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, and red dye no. 33, none of which can be considered natural or organic. Other widely used products included on the list were meat, software, mattresses, and bottled water. Each one of these products are often used very regularly in most individuals’ life, and it astonishes me that so many of these products are currently being green washed by the companies which produce and market them.

This discovery really opened my eyes to the mislabeling and representation of certain products that everyone may use everyday. From now on, I will definitely be paying more attention to the specific ingredients in the products I purchase, and will encourage those around me to do the same in order to remain informed consumers and not be mislead by these mislabeling of products.


An example of greenwashing that I have experienced on a weekly basis is when I go to the grocery stores and there are a different choice of bags to purchase which requires you to pay more money.  When purchasing these bags, you are not only paying for additional bagging but you are paying for being green. Going green should not have to cost so much money and should not require additional labor and work to create something that is technically not benefitting the environment. This go green idea is actually washing the go green aspect away because to the public or the shoppers, this looks like oh if you spend your money, then you are supporting the idea to make better decisions by buying bags that is actually just making profit for the company or organization that is selling the bags.  Not only is the company wasting its money to get these bags made for customers, but customers are wasting their money as well. One problem that came to my mind when thinking about people reusing bags for grocery shopping, is the amount of contamination that each one of those bags contain after shopping previously before another time of grocery shopping. If you think about it, think of the meats that may be leaking blood or something from the packaging or how the bags are laying in the shopping cart where others hands have touched. These bacteria then get into the bag and are contaminating the newly bought groceries.  Also, it is important to think about what products are being used to manufacture and produce these so called go green bags. The resources being used to produce these bags, are taking away from the environment themselves. Therefore, the green bags are typically just portraying a greener friendly environment to the customers to attract their attention more.

Greenwashing in the Automobile Industry

I had never heard the term greenwashing before class, however I was familiar with the definition. Through my public health courses, I was educated about the misconceptions behind food labeling. I learned there was little to no governmental regulation on a product’s marketing labels besides organic/GMO regulation. For example, grass-fed, cage-free, natural, all-natural, as well as others aren’t regulated the way consumers think. After looking into greenwashing some more, I found that the food industry was not the only industry partaking in these fallacies.

One example of greenwashing is in the automobile industry. General motors has sought to promote its production and development of fuel-efficient vehicles. In 2007, General Motors launched its “Gas-Friendly to Gas-Free” campaign, attempting to reframe the company as environmentally progressive. Despite this, general motors continues to be the leading producer of gas-guzzler automobiles. The campaign highlights five ways Chevrolet is “greening” its industry: increasing fuel efficiency; producing vehicles that can run on E85 ethanol; and developing hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells. Since the launch of the campaign, Chevy’s website, commercials and print ads regularly contain green-friendly images. What is misleading about General Motors efforts is the extent to which the company has advertised the green technologies, while still heavily producing gas-guzzling vehicles. What is worse, the company claimed to be a fuel solutions leader, while working behind the scenes to hinder attempts to increase fuel economy standard policy. One of General Motors ads states that Chevrolet currently sells seven vehicles that get at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Although this is accurate, the campaign fails to note that General Motors currently produces 51 other models that get less than 30 mpg, including 35 that get less than 20 mpg. Another General Motors ad promotes the Chevy Equinox as a hydrogen fuel cell concept car. The ad states “sustainable technology for a better environment.” Yet to date, General Motors has put only 100 of these cars on the road as a test  and in all likelihood the cost of mass-producing these cars remains too high for success. When consumers see the word “green”, they often feel better about their purchase and support it without question.

It is clear all industries are taking notice of the sustainability trend that has been and is currently happening in our world. It is important for consumers to make the connect that everything they read is not always true.


Greenwashing-Disposable Diapers

Greenwashing is a topic that quickly sparked an interest in me simply because it relates to my daily life. The act of misleading consumers regarding environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits is the technical definition of greenwashing. Although I’m all for products that are environmentally conscious, I don’t appreciate not knowing the full story about a products history from beginning to end. A major issue we have currently is the amount of wastes in our landfills that are not biodegradable, one product being disposable diapers. Studies suggest that close to 4,000 disposable diapers are used per child in a lifetime. With this many diapers ending up in our landfills annually, it only makes sense that the diaper companies do something about the amount of pollution their products are causing.

Now be careful, these diaper companies may not be doing as much as you may think. For example, recently Huggies diapers claimed their new formula was “pure and natural” and used with organic cotton, which is supposedly better for the environment. Their packaging was redone in order to help the consumer feel as if they are not harming the environment by purchasing this product. Questions have surfaced about what percentage of the diaper actually uses organic cotton, along with what measures are taken to receive and use this organic cotton. The company will not reveal whether the cotton is certified cotton or not, a major factor in the well-being of the environment in the long run. The cotton Huggies is using may also be bleached with chemicals, which will then come in contact with the sensitive skin of babies.

This is a great example of greenwashing because while the new change that Huggies is presenting looks beneficial, it may be misleading in that the consumer is still unaware of the critical details in handling, manufacturing, and sourcing of the product. Personally, although boasting about using 20% post-consumer material in their product is a great thing, 20% is hardly anything in the long run. Be weary of the products you are buying!

The Great Smoky Mountains

Over spring break my friends and I were lucky enough to spend a couple days in a cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee. Thankfully our cabin was just a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which we ventured into multiple times. Unfortunately, most trails were closed due to damage from wild fires. While in the Sugarland visitors center near Gatlinburg, we found a lot of exhibits highlighting the wildlife found in the forest. Another exhibit was dedicated solely to climate change and how it impacts the forest. More specifically, how ozone levels influence humans, plants, and foliage throughout the forest. As shown in the image below, ozone is harmful at ground level, and can increase as the elevation rises. Ozone is three oxygen atoms with one double bond and one single bond. Ozone forms naturally in the atmosphere which is necessary for life on the planet. However, ozone can form in the troposphere (lowest section of the atmosphere, ground level to about 6 miles up) by reacting with oxides of nitrogen. The National Park Service made it a point to publish that many of the pollutants which causes ozone levels to rise is a result to many human activities (e.g. industry, transportation, etc.). The display also featured a screen which shows the park’s last measured ozone level in parts per billion (ppb) over the past 8 hours. The day we visited the park had an ozone level of 35 ppb, well within the healthy limit for humans to breathe. Breathing ozone causes humans to experience chest pain, coughing/wheezing, and inflammation of the throat. Ozone can also cause lung tissue to become less effective, and therefore causes the lungs to become less efficient. Reducing ozone levels is critical so future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty The Great Smoky Mountains has to offer.

Greenwashing: Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner

Recently in class, we discussed the topic of greenwashing.  Before our class lecture, I was not familiar with the topic of greenwashing whatsoever.  After learning what greenwashing is all about, I am shocked.  I am one of those people who naturally just believes a lot of what I read and I know that if I was walking down the aisles of a store and saw the word “green” on a product I would probably just believe it.  I definitely won’t do that anymore from here on out.

For this blog post, I decided to analyze Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.  After reviewing the product on the Simple Green’s website, I would think that the product was safe to use.  Some of the positives of the product were that it was a safer cleaner and degreaser, was non-toxic with a biodegradable formula, and it was a powerful all-purpose cleaning.  But when Simple Green says that their product is “safer,” what do they mean?

This product may be “safer” but is it safe?  One problem that Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner can lead to is the damage of red blood cells.  The product also is a possible human carcinogen and is banned in supplies that are certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo.  Along with these hazardous problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “disinfectant products cannot make green claims because they contain registered pesticides.”

Simple Green’s All-Purpose cleaner isn’t all bad if you actually read all of the instructions, but the product has definitely been greenwashed quite a bit and could fool most shoppers walking through the store.  If diluted properly before use, the cleaner is safer and less of a threat.