Litterbugs and Corporate GreenWashing

By · Monday, April 23rd, 2012

People start pollution, people can stop it.

My connection with Earth Day goes back to the very first one in 1970. As I explained in yesterday’s post, Crying at the Movies, I was very concerned about the “P” word: pollution when I was a youngster.  My girl scout troop picked up lots of litter along the side of roads for Earth Day, 1970.

Even though my dad didn’t let us watch too much TV, he called it the “idiot box”, I still remember the TV commercial with a tearful Indian standing by the side of the road.  As he watched trash tossed out of the window of a speeding car “Keep America Beautiful” was the tagline.

I was shocked and dismayed to learn just recently that the Keep America Beautiful campaign was the first corporate greenwashing campaign.  Heather Rogers, author of  Gone Tomorrow: the Hidden Life of Garbage explains that the packaging industry created a well funded non profit organization called Keep America Beautiful. By focusing on our “bad habits” of littering, it helped to keep laws from regulating industry. KAB help to encourage laws that  would  crack down on litter bugs, but not giant corporations who were making an even bigger mess. Corporations like the American Can Company and Owens-Illinois Glass Company, inventors of one use cans and bottles, funded this lovely sounding campaign. Others include the Dixie Cup Company, Coca Cola, and the National Association of Manufacturers. Corporate green washing at its finest.

Today, industries role in waste remains hidden. They still work as hard as ever to keep regulations at a bare bones minimum. As a result, for every ton of consumer waste, industry creates 70 tons.

Frustrating, huh?

Anyway, enjoy Heather’s short film about garbage. You’ll enjoy the historic footage.

Here’s the link if the movie didn’t pop up. Its only 19 minutes, very very worthwhile!

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