Sunday GreenWatch: Earth Day Greenwash

by / Apr. 22, 2018 10am EST

I do not wish to impugn anyones good work. There are great things associated with Earth Day, historically and today. If you are doing great things, I applaud and uplift you. You know who you are.

2018 is just the cusp of the age of fake media. It’s impossible to know where we are going but economic trends indicate that there is a lot of money to be made promoting controversy, dissension, and instability. Greenwashing is a tactic to steal our future. This is what we need to be aware of. Big fake headlines followed by “fair and balanced” (read divisive) context and content. This kind of media has brought us to a new mob ruled world epitomized by Trump, Putin,  and the likes of Rupert Murdoch. Criminal agitators have risen to the top  and have used the broken backs of social order as the step ladders to their ascendent palaces. somehow they have tricked or bullied enormous parts of our populations into believing that sometimes their waste will trickle down on us. Bullshit.

Psychologists, advertisers, and propagandists understand that humans have what they call a “confirmation bias”.  these means that by some genetical circumstance, all people have a predisposition to believe that things exist in certain ways, and there is a certain order that supports our own ability to survive.  there are many kinds of people. Some people believe that they either are conquered by fear, or they can rule by fear. this kind of person often makes instant decisions. Fight or flight.  Others believe that the world is more complicated and it takes time to sort out emotions and decisions.  One way to think about this is that we have bullies and the bullied. In our modern trump world it would be easy to make an argument that we have the victors and the victims.  Which side are you on?

One of the endearing aspects of our economic culture is that all sales pitches are based on the need to sell something. A product, or an idea.  The sell is the thing. Cash in advance, and then hide the trail to the bank account so the tax people, and the rest of us are laundered out of the truth of money.  Which again, can be described with the Mob metaphor.  Basically our economic system is a system of organized crime.  We are left to our own devices to determine what is legal and what is not, and often that means that the rich and powerful get to hire the lawyers and judges, and ultimately call the tunes.  Most often the tune is disparity, poverty, and the restrictions many humans have about not being able to participate in our world.  I wrote about in last weeks GreenWatch column “disgraceful”,

I am not saying that this is a modern phenomena, but it is exacerbated in our modern world by how we have culturally evolved or de-evolved. Media, power, propaganda, and trickle down theories sums it up.  And yes it is true, hard work is not enough.


I was schooled in the media environment starting with the early 1970’s version of Marshal McLuhan . My early professional career took me into the Madison Avenue advertising  culture where I worked to help unravel what was then called “subliminal messaging”. This was all the advertising rage in the late 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  Subliminal messaging sold a lot of shit.  I learned a great deal from the works of Karl Marx, Groucho Marx, Joseph Goebbels and the propaganda machines that they set in motion in the modern worldscape. Despite the fact that laws were passed and new “best practices” were adopted by the industry into the 80’s, today we continue to be under the thumb of clever propagandists, including artists, technicians, word smiths, and well trained marketers perfecting the massaging for mass consumption. This stuff infiltrates our educational system, and rules our economy. This marketing is the backbone of our media, almost across the board.

One of the great issues that arose especially in the wake of the first couple of Earth Days was the introduction of “Greenwash”.  Earth Day, from its inception in 1970, proved to be a marketing success.  The conditional health of the planet and what was viewed as a very shaky future can be contextualized as a fundamental confirmation bias.  Manufactured thought memes since then  have divided thinking and action about, for example, climate change into distinct camps. They can be characterized as those that believe in climate change, those that don’t believe in climate change, those that believe climate change is human influenced, and those that don’t believe climate change is human influenced.  Propagandists that work for monied interests know how to exploit that confirmation bias and use it to divide and conquer, and to make money.  That is the primary mission of our culture. Last Sunday we wrote about winners and losers.  Who do you think is winning?

Greenwash risen

In the age of Trump we are all looking for solutions.  For some the solution is to seek wealth by any means necessary. For others it is to survive. some endeavor to think deeply about how the living planet supports our living species.  It is an unfortunate fact that the environment sublimates on every level to the seeking of wealth. This is why we so often talk about externalities as fundamental and failed economic principles and why people like David Suzuki refer to human made policies defined as externalitie, as brain damage for our species.

Greenwash is a propagandist marketing tool that paints products, companies, and even some environmental organizations as environmentally friendly. Often it is a deception. A successful deception for sure because the clever artists and technicians that craft messaging really do a good job of selling people on ideas that may be disingenuous at best, and completely destructive of life on earth at worst.  It is easy to understand that a lot of people have a confirmation bias that leans toward “green” products.  This intuitive acceptance can make it be very hard to distinguish what is green and what is rotten fruit.

Today, on Earth Day 2018, the conclusive result that we are dealing with is an earth in crisis. Environmental collapse causing social collapse all driven by money madness.   One of my favorite ways to describe climate change that it rests squarely on the shoulders of our political economic system. The greatest failure of capitalism as we practice it in a dog eat dog world, is climate change.

A recent example of greenwash is encapsulated in the photo accompanying this article.  Every company is seeking some sort of powerful niche. Every product is designed not to better society but to feather the bottom line.  this product promises to be green because it introduces recycled plastics into a profitable practice characterized as building greener and more sustainable roads by keeping plastics out of some waste stream. Sounds good. But it ain’t, its bullshit.

All plastics are made from chemicals. Plastics are not safe in the entire life cycle from manufacture to use to disposal (even recycling and reuse stages when it is still capable of entering the environment.

One of the biggest pollution issues that we have today is how plastics, especially in the form of  micro plastics and  plastic fibers enter the environment, water, and come back to us in drinking water.

We recently wrote about this as we continue to champion the work of Fredonia’s Dr. Shari Mason.  Excerpted here, and if you have read it, skip to the final section of todays article.

Microplastics Discovered in 90% of Bottled Water

A recent report led by our friend Dr. Shari Mason from SUNY Fredonia has received international attention. Her group studied major brands of bottled water from around the world and discovered that most contained microscopic particles of plastic, aka microplastics at dangerous levels. The most prominent plastic is polypropylene. Nylon and polyethylene terephthalate is also found in significant concentrations. Some brands contain up to 10,000 individual particles per liter.

Previously Mason’s team had studied tap water from around the world which revealed alarming amounts of dangerous microplastics. The US has the highest contamination rate at 94%. The new study indicates that bottled water, in some instance may have twice as much microplastics as tap water.


World Health Organization launches review after micro plastics found in 90% of bottled water  The Guardian 14 March 2018


Plastic fibers found in tap water around the world  The Guardian, 6 September 2017

Straw Free and EkoPlaza Initiatives

Speaking of microplastics. You may know that microbeads were the target of local legislation sponsored by Erie County Legislator Pat Burke and signed into law by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in the late summer of 2015. Legislative bodies across the U.S. followed suit and eventually the Microbead Free Water Act was signed into law in 2016 by President Obama. Great leadership from Burke and Poloncarz helped put our region on the environmental defenders map. Recently Malibu and Davis California, Seattle, Washington, Miami Beach and Fort Meyers, Florida have initiated a ban regarding the use of plastic straws. If you see beach debris you will note that plastic straws make up a lot of debris.  Maybe this is a new step that we can initiate in Buffalo and Erie County. Mark and Pat?


Is Plastic-Free the New Organic?  Organic Authority 6 April 2018


Now an important new anti-plastics initiative has been announced by the Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza. They are beginning to remove plastic packaging from grocery items in 74 locations. We should watch this closely and perhaps initiate a campaign asking Wegmans to do the same. Who’s in?

More here:

Dutch Supermarket Adds Plastic-Free Grocery Aisle Organic Authority  1 March 2018

A short Video produced by NowThisFuture

Greenwatch has covered water issues since our inception. If you search the Public database you will find dozens of articles about these crucial issues.

Here are some important links:

GreenWatch: A Big Win for the Public Trust and Local Action on Microbeads August 3, 2013

GreenWatch: Poloncarz signs Microbeads Legislation into Law  August 15, 2015

GreenWatch Sunday: Our Public Health Crisis October 22, 2017

GreenWatch Sunday: Water March 4, 2018



MacRebur “Plastic Roads” Greenwash

MacRebur is a company that says that it has a green solution for building roads and that solution limits fossil fuel products in the roadway, and promises to create a new profitable market for recycled plastics. The campaign is called “It’s the end of the road for waste plastic.”

CLICK HERE for a short video touting the product

How is this eco-friendly? It does not in fact reduce exposure to groundwater from plastics and plastics particles. By making them a part of the road they are subject to wear and tear, will breakdown, and will be subject to run off of stormwater and the chemicals used to treat the roads. Sun will exacerbate off gassing of dangerous chemicals and accelerate the breakdown of the components, all petrochemical in basis. Molecules and particles will enter our air, water table, and get into our drinking water. If this product is successful it will introduce a new gigantic gateway for these poisons to enter our environment. Madness. Brain damaged thinking.

Plastics are made from chemicals and plastics are hazardous at every stage of their human created cycle. From creation, to use, to disposal, they are one of the great hazards of our time.

See: Cradle to Grave by Michael Braungart and William McDonough

Recycling and or reusing plastics is more of an economic solution than an environmental solution. One of the issues is that if these road products become popular and profitable, the next step will be to manufacture new plastics that are cheaper and more targeted to the product’s success. This recycling thing is just a stepping stone to new plastics manufacturing abuses. This is the way our economy works.

All of us anti-fossil fuel aficionados (including me)  have to be concerned about this so-called “green-solution” that includes making future roads for trucks and cars more omnipresent.  There is no environmental win in making roads bigger, last longer, and increase the capacity for various industries including automotive, chemical, an manufacturing to profit at the expense of the environment.  Manufacturing and recycling and reuse of plastics does not offer an environmental solution.

Now if we could only come up with a system to put that whole concept into the landfill of time, we would be making some Earth Day type of progress.

Meanwhile we have to find some way to change. We have to stop making this stuff. The solution begins with ending the manufacture of poisons. Zero emissions begins with zero man made poisons.

So the message on this Earth Day is to beware of Greenwash.  It is everywhere, and my best advice is to increase your scrutiny of any product, and for that matter, any organization that claims to be “green.” Just take the blindfolds off.

a short video 

How microfibers from our cloths are poisoning our waters


Todays Sunday GreenWatch Television “Loon-a-pol-ooza” is published separately today.


You can find it by CLICKING HERE