Watchful Eye for Greenwash

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Recently I started a job with a sustainable investment conference and consultancy, know as TBLI.  Among my responsibilities with them, I’ll be handling alot of their web presence including the TBLI blog which is now listed in the right hand margin under “I also publish”. First let me say it is refreshing to work for a organization that does not look at blogging or ME blogging about work related themes as suspect.  Cause for this blogger, being free is essential to my work, and keeping secrets is just lame.

So as you’ll eventually pick up from reading the TBLI blog, the conference is all about sustainable development. A noble goal that more most rational humans makes sense.  Bringing people together, large corporations, small entrepeneurs, activists, I’ve seen a pretty good cross section of talent and experience. AND YES, I’ve seen names of corporations that I simply do not like or trust, for their environmental human rights records.  But nevertheless, ignoring them isn’t a sure bet for changing anything, so perhaps it is useful that there is place where they too can join the conversation and debate.

One guiding principle that stays with me in all my work, including here on the blog, is to always keep an eye out for greenwashing.  Meaning those that would pretend to be ecological, caring for how their company impacts the environment and the future of the earth. It is no secret that being green has become a catch-all, a marketing tool, a smoke screen for conducting business-as-usual.

I mention this because some of the latest items coming from the New Internationalist get into detail about just that; greenwashing.  They also tear into the realm of corporations pretending to be socially responsible and the manipulation of the United Nations to that end.  I intend to get in touch with some of these reporters for an upcoming podcast. I also recommend you read and beware aware in your daily choices, about who is lying about being responsible.

One more thing tho… just because there are corporations out there, lying about being green. Does not mean people should simply give up trying to be responsible consumers or responsible investors.  There are still ways to verify what is or is not ecological… sustainable.. and if people set their minds to it.. we can certainly find out.

Inspiring versus Annoying

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

First of all welcome to all the new people who have probably met me at this conference here in Paris. Many of you probably aren’t into the world of blogs and podcasts, so the fact that you clicked over to my website is a major milestone… maybe.

It was day two of the transport strikes, and officially day 1 of the TBLI conference. I did my best not to go around handing people cards to explain who I am, I also avoided explaining myself too often. I’ve worked too dam hard and have too many issues on my mind to take the constant trouble of explaining what I do to strangers at conferences.

At one point I ran into some very laid back new friends who work in the world of press releases. They liked my flickr cards, the ones that I made purposely almost too small to read, with photos of my adventures on the back. In their case, I described what I do on this site, and the topic came up of what would I say if I were having a drink with one of the big corporate representatives at this conference. The thought was fairly disturbing.. to have a drink with the likes of Suez, Shell, Coca-Cola (ha!).. they’re all here.

As much as I might want to challenge them with questions about their human rights records and the human suffering their actions have caused in the world, I must admit I don’t think – in the moment – I would have the nerve. I bet they would even be polite, or charming in some way, so that I’d almost forget who they worked for. Thats the worst part, potentially, of attending too many of these events… you rub elbows with individuals working for some of the most notoriously inhumane companies in the world, and you might find – as if probably often the case- they are actually nice people. But then what happens to everything you know about their companies actions? You put it to the side maybe.. separate the person from the corporation, perhaps.

For my part I’ve steered clear of them. Instead I’ve enjoyed the company of people who work for organizations dedicated to making real change in the world, respecting the rights and health of humans everywhere. And let me tell you, there are some very inspiring individuals here.  In the coming days I will feature some of these stories in both text and podcasts, so stay tuned.

Sustaining Paris

by bicyclemark 2 Comments

Greetings from Paris, where I’m spending a few days to have a few meetings and mainly, to attend a conference dedicated to sustainable investment and corporate social responsibility. Ha.. some people are thinking “those are buzzwords!”… you might be right, which is part of why I came down to see for myself.

Oui! Travelling down here by hitching a ride with friends and co-workers, I’m once again exposed to the huge elephant in the room for Europe (among the other elephants): automobiles. Everywhere I look, from the Netherlands through Belgium, and into France.. it is so painfully obvious that this part of the world is living beyond its means… it cannot sustain this many cars, and yet people keep right on driving. Some of the best train systems in the world, and they keep driving. Traffic jams everywhere, and yet they keep driving.

They love to point to the United States and say, “Americans and their cars.. ha!”… but when one looks around Central Europe.. especially this region… it is the pot calling the kettle black. And symbolic carbon trading, token political speeches, or pointing a finger and holding a nose towards the US… that isn’t going to solve what has become a cultural problem.. the culture of the car.

Of course I will try and bring this topic up as part of a few podcasts I intend to record from the conference. Many attendees are so-called experts, which might be interesting to talk to but as a podcaster, I’m as interested in the regular conference go-er working to make companies act responsibly as I am to speak with some CSI rockstars.

As an added bonus, I happen to have arrived in Paris during the largest labor struggle in a decade, *film at 11.

*=old American TV expression.