I believe we have a problem with media overload. Considering the numbers, it is hard to believe many do not have a problem with it. The average American spends about 13.6 hours consuming media in dozens of different forms. With increases in technology advances, more and more options of media have become available for users. While mediums in the media are exponentially growing, fact- based, multiple sourced journalism is dying. With smart phones and easy access to the Internet, almost anyone has the ability to be a journalist. This could be seen as positive or negative. On the negative side, anyone’s ideas, opinions, beliefs or biases can be published to the public and shared for people all over the world to see it. On the positive side, we are able to get first-hand experiences about an event, for example a video of a shooting, which decreases the story-twists reported by second or third hand accounts. With information constantly being thrown at users, it can be difficult to know which media sources to trust. We should encourage people to interact with media by asking questions first. Before trusting a media source, one should ask themselves if this is a news report, or an opinion piece. Also, users should ask themselves if the main point of the piece was proven by evidence. If the writer makes arguments, but fails to back them up, readers must be conscious of this when considering the credibility. It is important to look at the source before sharing the information. By sharing false information, it just adds to the media overload Americans are experiencing. An example that comes to mind is Facebook posts. Practically anyone can become a writer for The Odyssey, which is an opinion-based blog that allows writers to post about almost anything. These have become very popular and are often reblogged by the younger generations. These articles are not news sources, in fact, they are written by average people looking for an outlet for their thoughts and ideas. It is important to teach users not to trust everything they see online. If we can accomplish this, the overall media overload should decrease.
Marketing and education have similar ideas behind them, but they have vastly different results. Marketing seeks to inform a user about a product or service available to him or her. Education about a product can also be said to do the same, but marketing is biased. A company does not want to let you know all the gritty details about its products. It only needs you see the benefits of making the purchase without an of the possible hazards or repercussions. Education seeks to inform about all facets of something. If you were to education someone on a product, you would not leave out any details.
For example, a company could release a new brand of bathroom cleaning solution. It could work incredibly well at removing stains, and the marketing team would most likely try to advertise that fact as well as they could. A fraction of the proceeds from the product could even be donated to a charity, and the marketing team would likely be very vocal about that part. However, imagine that the product has a small chance of releasing fumes that can cause illness. The marketing team would probably never mention this and likely just affix a small warning label. If a user were to be educated about this product all of facets would become known even the negative ones. Green Washing is a similar example. A company just advertises the biased environmental facts or skewed views like how shopper can go green by choosing not to use a bag when it trains cashiers to always bag sold items. Marketing seems to just be a biased form of education. It feeds the public what they want to hear in order to elicit the results that it needs from them. Proper education and research of products is the only way to obtain the truth.
As well as taking Intro to Environmental Studies and Sustainability, I am also taking Global Health. About a week ago we had an out of class assignment that was called an Environmental Audit, where we could pick from different projects to do that would take about two hours of our time. I choose to go to a grocery store, in particular Harris Teeter in Mount Pleasant, and look at how many varies there were of different fruits, vegetables, and other foods. I was also looking at the price point per pound of these foods given on the list. I was actually very interested in this project, mainly because I was curious to see what the outcomes would be.
When I walked into Harris Teeter, I went straight to the produce sections because the first foods to look at were bananas, apples, oranges, etc. I found that looking for the number of varieties there were a lot more than I honestly realized before coming.
While I was looking at all the different kinds of grapes, one of the store employees came up to me asking if I needed help. I didn’t but we continued to talk about my school project. He told me a lot about the differences of organic and non-organic foods. He said that the way they have to treat these foods is much different. For example, the containers they come in are placed away from the non-organic, the sinks are different as well as the knifes, gloves, refrigerators, and the way they are stocked are all different. Harris Teeter also has their own composting system that helps because of how much waste they have due to the fruits and vegetables going bad so quickly. I found all this information so crazy. Although I know it has been talked about in class, I just feel like hearing it from the actual store employees made it all so real about what it takes for something to truly being organic and why it all costs more to eat.
There was a lot more about this Audit that I found interesting like all the difference varieties and what made them so different, so below are the pictures of the Environmental Audit I conducted. I am really glad that this assignment was assigned because I was really able to take the classroom information we have been learning and apply it at the actual grocery store.
Politics and the media have been a big issue for years now. Politics and media benefit from one another in different ways. One of the main ways is that political outputs and politics in general give the media plenty to talk about and as they talk about it, it gives them plenty to misconstrue. When it comes to polls and who you want to vote for, this is one of the main issues with knowing which candidates are actually reliable and knowing if what the media is saying about them is even reliable information. People who work for places like Fox News or CNN, they are the main news sources that like to play around with political information and completely bash different candidates that are running for things such as president. A great example of this is when Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump ran against each other back for the 2016 presidential race. Media outlets were constantly bashing the two pulling up things from their pasts to have something to make a story about them and grab the audience’s attention by doing so. When they do this, they are portraying negative images to the audience to make them feel a certain way about whatever is going on. The media outlets during presidential elections will feed off of negativity for whoever they do not like and give that to the audience or they will take something that they have said in the past or present and add more to it to make it more interesting or to make it have something negative about it. With this being said, I think it is important to realize that not all media outlets or news sources give the most reliable information about politics. They make everything seem so much bigger than it is or they make a politician’s accomplishments seem smaller than they are.
Before taking classes based on public health and the environment, I would have told you that marketing and education are similar in many ways. After taking classes on these subjects, though, I would have to say that they aren’t as much alike as I previously thought. Marketing and education is basically profit vs. helping.
When companies are marketing their products, they may tell the truth about them but for the most part the truth is tweaked or over-exaggerated. Many companies market that their products are “green” or “eco-friendly” or “low fat.” But are the products they are marketing really as safe and healthy for the consumers as the company makes them out to be? Companies want their products to sell so when marketing them, a consumer may not get an honest truth. Or, the consumer may get a potion of the truth. This can often happen when a product says “LOW FAT” in capital letters on the front but then when you turn the product over, in tiny letters are all of the issues the product has or could cause.
When a company is educating their consumers, they want them to know the facts. The company will tell their consumers the truth, bad or not. When educating someone about an issue or product, the person will be presented with facts that do not glamorize or make the product look better. It is important when educating to not have a bias.
Overall, marketing is a way to make something look good and to make consumers buy the product regardless of if the product is actually 100% what they are telling the consumer it is or not. Education on the other hand is more about keeping your consumers safe, no matter the profit. Marketing is a method that is used to bring in profit while education is a method that is used to keep healthy consumers.
With the recent presidential election, as well as our recent class lecture on the topic of mainstream news media truthfulness, curiosity was sparked as to whether or not mainstream news can be trusted. If it’s mainstream, at first glimpse I would assume that all of the information is correct. After doing some further research, I formed the opinion that oftentimes mainstream news media cannot be trusted. I say this because at the end of the day, the media industry is in it for one thing only, which is the money. In my opinion, they may act like they are doing a service to the public by providing them with informative information, when it reality it’s oftentimes the total opposite.
I have seen examples on TV of CNN telling one side of the story on President Trump, while Fox News tells a complete other side of the story. As for which media outlet is correct, that’s ultimately for the consumer to decide upon. My point is to simply make the consumer aware of the possibility that not all news sources, including mainstream news, is accurate. I try very hard to be cautious of trusting news distributed on social media because I have already learned my lesson that you can’t believe everything you see online. It’s known that individuals tend to make up lies in order to gain attention, whether that be good or bad attention. At the same time, I usually try to remind myself to be cautious of mainstream media just as I am with social media and satirical news sources.
If someone is unsure of whether or not an article they are reading online is true or not, my first recommendation would be to check and see what source the article is from. This information is usually found at the bottom of the page. From here, an individual can simply input this news source into google and read reviews/opinions of the selected news source written by consumers alike. As for myself, if I check to see which news source an online article is from, and for example the news source is “Webscamz”, I won’t even waste my time researching this source or believing any of the content in the article. The reliability of a news source for myself is measured in the ratings received by other consumers. I trust in others like myself quite a bit when it comes to something I am unfamiliar with. At the end of the day, even a well regarded news source has the possibility of publishing an inaccurate news article. Always be weary of what you read these days.
As we discussed in class, economics are a vital part of not only American life but also global life. I found this to be very interesting, as someone who knows very little about economics I was excited to know anything about how the system operates. But as we started our discussion I found it to be a little unnerving, particularly the “empty” vs “full” worldview. As the environmental movement gains momentum, there are still many people against it and even more roadblocks. Personally I don’t understand how people can have little to no concern about environmental degradation and climate change considering the abundance of research that has gone into proving it. But as we discusses economics and the “empty” vs. “full” worldview I started to understand their perspective a little more. These people are against it simply because they still view our world as empty, with infinite opportunity for growth, when this simply isn’t the case.
As we deplete our natural capital, our man made capital grows exponentially. And when our world was empty this growth was good, it made people money and helped people with their day-to-day necessities. But we don’t live in that world anymore, we aren’t creating to help people acquire their necessities, we grow just for the fun of over consumption, and this is where the problem lies. Until people have an understanding that our natural capital needs to not only exist, but prosper in order for man made capital to have success, we will continue to struggle with the challenges that face our current environmental state.
A central theme of American’s economic and cultural disposition is always wanting more. This dissatisfaction with minimalism and basic needs has put a strain on our environment. Fueled by the Industrial Revolution, we became focused on consumerism and the collection of stuff. The environmental movement of the 1960’s allowed buyers to analyze the impact of their purchases and begin to think more sustainably.
Modern day environmentalism reflects the trendy “go green” lifestyle. Now more than ever, we see buyers with heightened awareness of the environmental aspects of consumerism, so the quality of products has been pushed to increase. In fact, we have recently developed this fetishized need for organic, pesticide free, non-GMO green items.
We have become so separated from the food we put in our bodies, mainly because of the systematic bureaucracy that is our current agricultural industry. There has been an increase of Americans who do not want to give up the convenience of processed food and chemical ridden household items, but would pay a little more for something that they think is the healthier option. Major players in the consumer industry have been able to monopolize on and control the supply of certain items.
These companies began to realize the attractiveness of a green label and capitalize on the vulnerability of the customers. We have more recently become aware of a trend in product quality called greenwashing, which is when a company advertises its items as eco-friendly, when in fact they are far from it.
A style of greenwashing that can be seen heavily within the food industry is through visual deception. The green movement values a type of frontier ethic where there are limitless pastures and resources in rural America, scattered with small family farms, pesticide free agriculture, and little pollution. This is obviously not reality. However, as we shop in our congested urban areas, sometimes Americans cling to anything we believe to be healthy. We are enticed by pictures of red barns on meat packaging and egg cartons, and also words such as “CFC-free” and “all natural”. These companies give us a false perception that they are looking out for the best interest of the consumer and our environment, and this captivates us. Not only are these businesses misleading us to believe these products are eco-friendly, they are continuing to overcharge for them.
We have become a society so numbed by consumerism, that a disconnect has formed between us and the products we use on a daily basis. This gives big business room to take advantage of the market and present items as they choose. We are blind customers, willing to pay for anything. In order to combat against greenwashing, consumers around the country must become further educated and start consciously reading labels.
EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY
Green washing is becoming a serious problem that many people are not aware of. Meat producers such as Tyson have done this in the past with chicken. The company advertised the meat they produced, as “all natural” but was the exact opposite. In the Tyson factory, chickens were fed corn that has been genetically modified which is definitely not natural. Also, the chickens were treated with antibiotics and injected with artificial growth hormones to make them larger quicker. Tyson falsely labeled the packages of the chicken and advertised to the public that the chicken was free of antibiotics and was all-natural. The case against Tyson began in 2007 when the United States Department of Agriculture discovered the use of gentamicin and ionophores in the process of raising chickens. These are two antibiotics that prevent the chickens from dying raising the profitability of the company. Eventually, Tyson was forced to change the label of the packaging and also sued by competitors such as Perdue and Sanderson Farms Inc. Although most of the meat producers in the industry use antibiotics, they do not label them as “free of antibiotics.” Tyson’s deceptive marketing strategy falsely informs consumers which can subtract business from producers that are actually truthful in their labeling. The increased competition is not fair for ethical producers in the same industry but especially for the consumer spending money on products that are actually undesired. The specific example of Tyson green washing their products is very significant because Tyson is an enormous company being one of the worlds largest meat processors and the second largest chicken producer in the United States. Therefore, the general population is relying and trusting one company with their health and money. Green washing has many negative impacts to society and the population as a whole and needs to be broadcasted more to the public because not a lot of people are aware this is an issue.
This blog post is long overdue, but on February 16th I had the pleasure of attending of attending a talk on the College’s campus featuring representatives from Patagonia as well as PLAN (The Post-Landfill Action Network) about personal activism. Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the entire event, but from the hour or so that I was there I was moved in such an incredible way by the passion that was shown for the environment.
During the time that I was there, policy and the role of government was a major talking point. The current administration does not have a good track record for keeping the environments safety in mind while making policies. Issues such as the Endangered Species Act being under fire and the Dakota Access Pipeline given the go ahead show that the environment is the least of the Trump administration’s worries.
I think the most important part of this lecture was the fact that the speakers acknowledged that there is hope and that we can bridge the disconnect between people to create a movement to show that citizens are concerned about the environment and citizens expect their government to be concerned about the environment as well. The most powerful moment of the lecture for me was singing a song called “Jumbo the Elephant”. This song was about an elephant and a mayor, but the message of the song was much bigger. It was saying that people who are held down by a higher political power still have power. Essentially, there is power in numbers and if citizens want to enact change they much work together to show that their power is greater than that of the higher political powers.
Another important talking point of the night was the Worn Wear program itself. While I was unable to stay for the entire Worn Wear presentation, I still learned a few really interesting facts. The Worn Wear program is a program run by the brand Patagonia, which is a family owned business that started in 1973. The super cool thing about Patagonia is that it is still a privately owned business and is still run by the original family that started it all. The Work Wear program was started to repair items to try to keep clothing items from ending up in a landfill if something was wrong with the item.
It was incredible to hear the stories of people bringing in a piece of clothing that has once been their mothers or a piece that has traveled with them everywhere that they have been. Worn Wear is fixing these clothing items so people are able to hang on to these memories for even longer. This program is all about sustainability, repair, and reuse, all of which are incredibly important to keeping textile waste out of landfills and other dumping grounds.
Overall, this lecture was such a great experience. All of the speakers were so passionate about what they do and it was really inspiring. Personally, I believe that there were two big takeaways from this lecture, the first being that we can only enact change by coming together as one unit and the second being there’s not need to throw something away if there’s still live in that product.