Today, I’m going to talk about greenwashing at Rite Aid. I’ve been working at the Rite Aid on East Bay street for the past year, so I have gotten to see their complete lack of any real environmental policies. To start, there is an commercial that plays every day on the speaker system advertising “how you can go green today at Rite Aid” and to ask a cashier for more details. The details in question is just the option to opt out of having your purchase bagged when you leave. That’s pretty much it. For a while, all of our name tags had these little extensions on them advertising going green at Rite Aid. This really irks me because it is not really an environmental initiative. It is just trying to capitalize off of a practice that people have been doing for ages. Next, I want to speak about how we do not really do much to help the environment. We basically do not have any form of recycling. All of the cardboard we use is broken down and thrown into a dumpster. Also, I understand the receipts are printed on a special type of paper that is not usually recyclable, but we waste a lot of that stuff. A receipt will always print out for a purchase regardless of whether or not the customer wants one. Then, we have to throw pounds upon pounds of this paper away everyday just for it to be locked in a landfill somewhere. I once joked with a coworker by putting the replacement printer paper in the trashcan because it was just going to end up there anyway. Finally, we do offer reusable bags at the store which is a plus, but the bags have been known to contain harmful materials in the past. I have tried to ask my managers to make attempts at recycling, but so far, it has been to no avail 🙁
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.
On February 28th, I was lucky enough to be one of the forty people that got to attend a DIY workshop hosted by the College of Charleston’s Office of Sustainability. The workshop focused on teaching us how to produce homemade versions of toothpaste, face wash, and body scrub. The event started with introductions as well as a brief discussion on the micro plastics that are put into many of the hygiene products that we use every day. Next, we all split into groups to begin making our products. My group started with toothpaste. I was especially lucky because I had actually just run out of normal toothpaste that morning, and this was the perfect opportunity to restock. It was a truly simple process in all honesty. The toothpaste was made from only three ingredients. We just had to mix coconut oil with baking soda. After that was thoroughly blended, we had to add in peppermint oil as an additional way to fight off bacteria. Next, we got the chance to make an simple body scrub. This had a recipe that was just as simple as the toothpaste. All we had to do was mix Epson salt with baking soda. After that, we got to add whatever essential oils we wanted to the mix to match our individual preferences. Finally, we moved on the the exfoliating face wash. This was a bit more complicated. We had to mix Castile soap with carrier oil. Then, we added in honey to help exfoliate the skin. Next, we were given an enormous selection of essential oils that had different health benefits such as helping dry or damage skin. Lastly, my group thanked our hosts, and I asked if there would be any other events like this later in the semester because it was really fun. The office will be hosting more events in April as an FYI. Overall, this was a great learning experience, and I believe the products turned out fairly well.
This is the second time that I have seen Food Inc. I feel that it is just as eye opening the second time. So much is wrong with agriculture as a whole. I especially do not enjoy how companies like Tyson have begun to genetically modify animal like chickens to better suit their needs. It is just cruel to raise animal this way. The chickens in the movie could hardly move because their own bodies were not even fit for living. I do not see how this kind of treatment of animals can be condoned. I honestly cannot tell if lawmakers are just turning a blind eye toward the treatment of these animals.
Also, I find video really makes me ask questions about American subsidies. I once took a sociology course where we discussed the subsidizing of corn in the United States. This was also the same class where I watched Food Inc. for the first time. We went into a lengthy discussion about how some farmers actually cannot afford to grow anything other than corn. Other crops just cannot support their lifestyles. Also, we got to see some other videos on the process of collecting the corn, and much of it just ends up going to waste. I really do not like how the industry has become so dependent on the corn. It can be found in almost any processed food in stores, and it is even being fed to animals that cannot handle it. I am really surprised that the adverse health effects have not caused us to stop feeding it to cattle yet. It just seems wrong to try and feed them something like that since it could be putting them through a great deal of pain. Overall, Food Inc. was a very awakening experience and I hope that I can reduce the amount waste in my life as well as the damage I may be causing to the environment.
Recently, I came across a guide to wasteless living while was browsing through social media, and I just wanted to share a few of the tips it talked about as well as how it is affecting me. I will also include a link to the guide. For starters, it shared a few basic practices for wasteless and sustainable living. These include using usable cups, composting, buying local etc. Next, it went into some strange topics I had never really thought about. It gave a recipe for making bars of shampoo which was pretty neat. Then, it explained the dangers of trying to compost tea bags because they can contain micro plastics. Apparently, it is much better to just buy loose leaf tea and save the environment a bit of stress. Another interesting topic that was covered was how you should invest in metal clothespins (if you hang your clothes to dry) because wooden pins can break easily, and the metal is somewhat hard to recycle. The guide also advised donating old towels to places like animal shelters since they are always in need. I was introduced to wax wraps which work similarly to cellophane wrap but uses the warmth of your hands to mold itself to whatever you use it on. The guide did offer a few extremes that I do not think that I am ready for. It advised using designated clothes instead of toilet paper. I am not sure about the rest of you, but I am not quite comfortable enough to take this kind of step towards wasteless living. Lastly, the guide ends with a few challenges for its readers. I am already trying to take on one of these challenges by cutting plastic straws out of my life by buying a set of metal straws. I honestly have no idea why it took me so long to do something so simple.
I’m not quite sure if this applies, but I was recently inspired to start making my own laundry detergent. It all started when I was taking an old newspaper to the recycling bin. I happened to see a story on the one of the pages about a mother who had replaced commercial laundry detergent with homemade. I ended reading the whole thing, and learning about how homemade laundry detergent is generally a cheap alternative to the commercial stuff, and it is also less taxing on the environment. I learned that normal laundry detergent is filled all kinds of harsh petrochemicals, carcinogens, and brighteners that can cling to clothes can cause all kinds of skin irritations. A bit more research revealed that Tide alone has over twenty-five separate ingredients including “fragrance,” which could be made of an assortment of harsh chemical compounds.
So, it was basically decided for me at that point. I remembered that I had some friends who had taken a workshop on making laundry detergent and asked for their help in my project. We started by collecting the necessary ingredients. First, we needed washing soda which is slightly different from baking soda. Next, we required borax. I should mention that if you are hesitant about using borax it is acceptable to just double up on the washing soda. Finally, we just needed a bar of natural soap. We started the process by grating the bar of soap into flakes. This actually took a little effort. Lastly, we mixed 250ml of borax and washing soda with our new soap flakes until perfectly combined. You just need to one or two tablespoons of the stuff per load of laundry. So far, it works decently well, and if you want to add your own fragrances, you can do so adding certain oils to your recipes. There are a lot of recipes out there if you want a more detailed process.