I was at the movies the other day, just relaxing and celebrating the feat of getting through the latest stomach virus to eviscerate our family’s collective guttiwuts.
And while I was real excited to see previews for upcoming films, I was less thrilled to watch the parade of ads that now takes up about the first 23 minutes of the cinema-going experience. You should pay me to come or give me the movie for free if I have to watch these stupid ads!
But little did I know what a treasure I was in for in watching the latest Coca-Cola recycling commercial.
Now, I know that huge corporations work the Orwellian Newspeak at a level that even the nut-jobs at Fox News would find impressive. But I tell you, this Coke ad has got to rival the whole “clean coal” concept as one of the biggest greenwashing efforts to come down the pike in the last year.
In the ad, happy, peppy coke drinkers skip their way through various scenarios to a quirky Indie rock beat either 1) scoring a coke from a vending machine 2) tipping a cold soda back and drinking in its acidic delight or 3) happily, dutifully popping the waste packaging into a Coca-Cola branded recycling bin at locations as diverse as work offices and beach boardwalks. Ugh!
It’s posed so all-freaking cradle to cradle that you might be tempted to believe that mega multinationals like Coca-Cola actually give a crap. Especially when the voice over announcer at the end gently affirms that, “If you’ve had a coke in the last 40 years, you’ve played a part in one of the largest beverage recycling efforts in the world.”
Aw, aren’t you a good person!
And as if to make sure you don’t miss the point about what a gosh-darned good
citizen consumer you are in buying and recycling their product, a recycled bottle spins in to the foreground with the phrase “give back” written on it. Then a graphically cool red and white fizzing Coke animation bubbles forth imploring you to “Open Happiness.”
Can you feel it?
No, not the cavities in your teeth. The pure joy of drinking in such a positive commitment to resources, humanity, and the planet!
For such devotion to getting the word out on recycling I have to give Coca Cola a highly placed nomination for the Greenwasher of the Year Award. Boy, does Coke Add Lies.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain
Sadly a lot of good people might get hoodwinked into thinking that Coke’s self-congratulatory ad pitch means something, well, meaningful. Or that it helps justify the regular consumption of a product that not only has no nutritional value, but actually has helped pump up this nation’s hyper-ballooning waistline and the incidences of diabetes across the ages.
But at least when you do drink it, you put it in a recycling bin. That’s got to be good, huh?
Sure, recycling’s fine. Glad Coke is on board and doing their infinitesimally small part to mitigate the disaster that they themselves wrought. But Coke, don’t act like some hero when your product does far more harm than it could ever make up for in good.
For starters, just consider the company’s vast water usage. On sodas that’s bad enough, but on Coke’s Dasani water it also means claiming water rights in American cities and towns and effectively privatizing a public resource essential for the actual survival of any human being. That’s just criminal, even if the law doesn’t say so. Unpunished corporate criminals write these laws, after all. What do you expect?
Past the double-speak, Coca-Cola is really saying that “If you’ve had a coke in the last 40 years, you’ve played a part in one of the largest beverage littering efforts in the world.”
Take, for example, this:
- Only about 30% of plastic soda bottles are recyled. So thanks Coke, but 70% of your copious trash isn’t getting recycled. Two-to-one ain’t getting recycled. The majority: Not recycled!
- How’s about that 12% of landfills are taken up by plastic bottles? A tenth of our landfills just devoted to these non bio-degradable individualized package portions leeching a toxic stew into our water tables and soil. Thanks, Coke for doing your part there.
- Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in 2009, only 7% was recovered for recycling. Meaning 27.9 million tons were not recycled. Thanks Coke, for adding tons to that heap of trash.
- Oh, and there are three Ocean Trash Vortexes out there, one of which, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is twice the size of Texas and just rife with dense plastics that, when they break down from ocean water, leech such corrosive toxic chemicals into the water that marine life and human life is seriously compromised.
So Coke, after you subtract the 30% of your toxic soda bottles and the mere 12% of your water bottles that are recycled from the total bottles that you produce, that leaves about 80% of your crappy bottles that are floating around in the oceans killing us, or piling up in landfills and killing us. Your corporate stewardship is just so amazing there.
There’s part of me that would like to offer a detailed intellectual analysis of Coca-Cola’s corporate greenwashing across issue areas as diverse as science and culture. But honestly, I’d rather not waste the time.
It’s much more efficient to just cut to the chase and say, “Coca-Cola, go to Hell!”
–Lindsay Curren, Transition Voice Magazine
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