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Illustration 3: the cynic contradiction
The few examples learn how in many cases advertising tries to attach some green value to the product or service.

The examples prove that the green in many cases is nothing more than a façade. The examples also reveal how this leads to a frustrating contradiction. The green actors often are the first victims of the consumption instigated by their courteous cooperation.

first published: xii.2000, updated i.2006

I happily drop
into the service station to refuel, after I learned that super tankers protect the blue whale.

Super-tankers may exceptionally spill a few drops. They may in some rare case of force majeure rinse their tanks whilst at sea. But in general: the more I burn, the more they bring, the cleaner the sea.

1991 – super-tankers save the whale

The introduction to the ad (right) is well done.
They fail however to come to the right conclusion. We won't save the sea with more double-hull vessels. I think that the sea prefers fewer transports, less pollution, less disturbance.
The few blue whales remaining alive in the world are no match for the predator who has carelessly eliminated eight hunderd species of life from the face of the earth in this century alone: Man. Like every other creature in the sea, the blue whale requires clean water to live. …

I pay with
a green credit card: it helps protecting the rain forest. I sometimes buy some drink-boxes extra at the fuel station in order to reach the minimum amount to qualify.

The advert — trying to be witty — says (translated from Dutch): Some things you don't buy with a Visa WWF card. … For each transaction of more than 2000 BEF, 10 BEF will be donated to WWF.

2000 – green credit card

From my point of view.

I pay 350 BEF —price at time of introduction— for the card. Then only transactions of at least 2000 BEF (about 50 Euro) qualify. The amount donated (always 10 BEF) is not connected with the amount of the transaction. Meaning that my donation will reach 350 BEF (cost of the card) only after 35 qualifying transactions.

Conclusion : an effort of 70350 BEF to donate a meagre 350 BEF !

Through the eyes of the environment

The system whips up consumption. Nothing guarantees that people will only buy green things with their card. Reparing the damage will surely cost more than the action yields.

It is much better for the environment (WWF should know that) when people donate 350 BEF directly short-circuiting the card construction. It would cost less and it wouldn't cause nasty side effects.

My holiday residence
—in a forest clearing, very cosy, lovely people all around ; the access road needs improvement though— is build with green bricks.

The advert says (translated from German) :
On principle our construction material is Green
The text then explains how, since long, the environment friendly, energy and resource saving product is made from quartz sand, lime, water, and cement and never causes any pollution.

1991 – green bricks


The ad is suggesting that anything build with green parts couldn't possibly have any bad impact on the environment. Following the same line of thought it is difficult to understand the fuss about Chernobyl. They only blew up some natural (and purified) product. What could be wrong with that ?

Through the eyes of the environment

It is good to use green materials for building. But I wonder if caterpillars consider green bricks more edible than other ones. Or would the use of green bricks have made any difference to the landscape of [Illustration 1] ?

I drink lots
of mineral water to save the Pyrenean Bear. Those huge plastic bottles are handy. I use them shredded to fill the pits in the road.

The advert says (translated from French) :
Follow your instincts
Help us save the Pyrenean Bear

drink and save the bear

How to proceed

The ad continues explaining how we must act today. Saving the bear is saving our environ­ment, the well being of ours and of our children. Simply send 50 (fifty) vignettes collected from as many bottles and the company will donate 10 FF (1.5 Euro).

Through the eyes of the environment

This ad is about as sincerely green as a cache-sexe is a winter-coat. The chances that a dona­tion actually will be made are rather low. Should they honestly care, the company would have donated a small amount for each bottle sold. And they could have gone for glass instead of plastic.

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