Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pathetic greenwashing

I see TV commercials for the new Sony Ericsson phone. The slogan is "Save the Planet in Style".

The only thing the ad offers in that regard is that the phone is made with recycled plastic. That is just pathetic!

I agree that many small steps and changes in our daily behaviour are important to save the planet, but the use of recycled plastic in a mobile phone deals with a very, very minor part of the environmental impact of the use of cell phones.
The mobile phone network uses an awful lot of energy, the mobile phones are made of a number of nasty materials and uses rare minerals, the control of which are subject to wars (Congo), they are soaked in flame retardants, the batteries are an environmental problem, the radio waves are possibly dangerous etc. The constant shift to new models drives a crazy consumption and then we are supposed to have a good consciousness beacuse the thing is using recycled plastic. And even worse the slogan Save the Planet is used to sell the stuff. I have always had Ericsson and later Sony Ericsson phones (because my grandfather worked for them) but this kind of absurd greenwashing is hypocritical so I might consider buying another one.

To be fair to Sony Ericsson they are not alone. My daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet features an article that tells me how I can fly to Thailand with a good consciousness, by offsetting carbon emissions. Corporate Responsibility and other sustainability schemes are popular in the most dirty segments of our businesses, not to speak about in the bank sector which is more to blame than any other sector for facilitating irresponsible consumption.

It is of course better to offset carbon emissions when flying and to use recycled plastic for the mobile phone than not to do it. But the truth of the matter that this kind of "greenwashing" just keep us on consumption patterns that are not sustainable. Consume less is still the best recipe for "saving the planet" (an expression which in itself is stupid - we are not threatening the planet, our behaviour is rather threatening the survival of the human being). No Corporate Responsibility programs or Global Compacts or voluntary Carbon trading will change that. And companies that wants to be relevant in the future world surely have to do a lot more than that.


  1. The Japs are smart but the environment suffer. Do they ready and anybody care about it?!

  2. just so you know, there are more things than the plastic they've thought about. For example they've made the manual electronic to save paper and imagine how much paper it can add up in if many people care enough to consider bying this cell phone, even if they think its just about the plastic. The industrial world is not ready for big steps yet, the money still plays a too big part.