When trying to think about something to write about for my extra credit blog post, I decided that I wanted to browse the internet for different sustainability initiatives that might be happening that I am not aware of. That search led me to Organic Valley. Organic Valley started out as a group of local farmers in Wisconsin who were very unhappy with what farming was turning into- less local and more industrialized. Organic Valley’s mission is to change the way people think about food and they have set high standards for themselves. Organic Valley has various product like milks, yogurts, and protein shakes. I really liked how their website is really neat and organized and actually answers a lot of questions that someone who is unfamiliar with the idea of organic food may want to know. The company tries to use mostly natural light and was built out of mostly locally recycled materials. I also really liked how on Organic Valley’s website there was an entire section dedicated to meeting the farmers that work for the company. In this section they let you know that they are much more worried about the quality of their products and the families and farmers both working for the company and also the consumers buying from the company than they are about the profit and who gets what. The website also has a section on the care of their animals and an option for you to take a virtual farm tour. Overall, I just thought this company was really neat and helpful for someone who may be wanting to start their journey of eating more organic.
For my event or activity outside of class I volunteered at our local food bank, the Lowcountry Food Bank. I know what you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with our class? So basically, we went to the Zucker Middle School and volunteered at a fresh for all. For those of you who do not know what a fresh for all is, no worries I didn’t either before volunteering.
Usually when I help out at the food bank we focus on helping lower income families learn to cook and buy groceries at a price that works for them but this time it was different. Before arriving at the middle school all I knew was that this was also the day that the school was hosting parent-teacher conferences so that the parents could pick up report cards. When I arrived at the middle school, I was escorted to an outside portion of the lunch room where there were various cardboard boxes set out in a line on about three or four big tables. In each of the boxes was all kinds of fruits and vegetables! I soon learned that the main goal of the fresh for all was for the parents to not only pick up report cards but also for the parents to get as many fruits and vegetables as they needed for their family.
Not only did this fresh for all promote healthy eating, but they also promoted local farmers and less processed foods. I thought this was awesome when thinking about how much better eating and buying like this is versus eating and buying processed, chemically-saturated foods not only for our bodies but for our environment as well. Programs like the food bank promoting eating locally grown, less processed foods are the small steps our environment needs to improve.
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.
Recently in class, we discussed the topic of greenwashing. Before our class lecture, I was not familiar with the topic of greenwashing whatsoever. After learning what greenwashing is all about, I am shocked. I am one of those people who naturally just believes a lot of what I read and I know that if I was walking down the aisles of a store and saw the word “green” on a product I would probably just believe it. I definitely won’t do that anymore from here on out.
For this blog post, I decided to analyze Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. After reviewing the product on the Simple Green’s website, I would think that the product was safe to use. Some of the positives of the product were that it was a safer cleaner and degreaser, was non-toxic with a biodegradable formula, and it was a powerful all-purpose cleaning. But when Simple Green says that their product is “safer,” what do they mean?
This product may be “safer” but is it safe? One problem that Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner can lead to is the damage of red blood cells. The product also is a possible human carcinogen and is banned in supplies that are certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo. Along with these hazardous problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “disinfectant products cannot make green claims because they contain registered pesticides.”
Simple Green’s All-Purpose cleaner isn’t all bad if you actually read all of the instructions, but the product has definitely been greenwashed quite a bit and could fool most shoppers walking through the store. If diluted properly before use, the cleaner is safer and less of a threat.
When we watched the film Food Inc. in class, it definitely made me open my eyes and think. Most of the time when I eat food, I hate to say it, but I do not really pay that much attention to where it actually came from. I along with many others have just been made to believe that most of the products in stores are going to be okay for us to eat. I think the most shocking part of the whole film was just how much control larger food production companies actually have. One example of this that I saw in the film was when they were saying that in our grocery stores, it seems like there are so many different brands and so many different options, but when it comes down to it there are only a few different brands controlling the food production industry and much of what we see in grocery stores is made with corn. Another great example of their control that I saw in the film is when it was mentioning Monsanto. I have heard of Monsanto before, but I never knew that a company could have so much control over its employees. Monsanto has gained so much power that even if one of their seeds accidentally ends up in someone’s field that hasn’t been approved, that farmer could be sued.
Overall, Food Inc. really just made me realize that I need to look more into the food that I am consuming and maybe do some extra research on where the food was actually produced and how. This film also made me realize that we as Americans have to do something or we really are going to lose control of what we are consuming. We have to pull away the curtain and change the way that food is being produced.
Before taking this class, I had heard of the concept ecofeminism before but had no idea what it actually meant, probably because I have never taken the time to actually look the word up and see what it was all about. After reading the assigned material and discussing it some in class, I finally understand what the concept of ecofeminism actually is. After our class on Tuesday, I wanted to look up ecofeminism and see more examples of how feminism and the environment are connected with each other.
One example that I found is the use of “pinkwashing.” The term pinkwashing is brand new to me, but after reading about what it actually means, it made me a little frustrated. Pinkwashing “is the application of the breast cancer symbol on products that contain toxins and chemicals that can cause cancer.” One article I read talked about one example of this with one of the larger oil companies. The oil company was promoting breast cancer by using pink drill bits, while also using these drill bits for fracking. By fracking, they are using carcinogens such as lead and sulfuric acid that can lead to cancer. These carcinogens also “are being used in and around aquifers to find natural gas.” Basically, companies are using techniques like this to make a bigger profit but they aren’t worrying about what dangers that, not only women, but everyone and the environment will face because of it.
This article really made me wonder what other ways ecofeminism is happening all around me that I am not even aware of. I understand making a profit, but does the profit justify what problems it will cause to our Earth and the people that are living on it?
Ecofeminism: Environmental Justice with a Gender and Intersectional Lens
I am far from an expert on environmental issues, and if I am being honest, before this class I didn’t really know much about what issues our Earth is actually facing. After watching the documentary about overpopulation, it made me want to do some research on my own and find out more about what is going on. After doing some research online, one problem that I saw our environment is losing is biodiversity. This basically means that because of actions that are being performed by humans, species are going extinct. This is happening mainly because of pollution and also because we are taking some of their important resources. This really stuck out to me because I am always hearing about how different species are going extinct all over the world but I never really sit down and think about why they are actually going extinct. I’ve never thought that environmental problems that are being caused by humans had that big of an impact on different species.
Another environmental hazard that we as humans are causing is tobacco waste. According to the World’s Health Organization, “the manufacturing of tobacco products also produces an immense amount of waste. In 1995, the global tobacco industry produced an estimated 2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste.” I have always been taught that smoking is bad, but never for the environmental reasons. When I have been told before not to smoke, the reason behind it is because it is bad for my health, not bad for the environment. After reading about tobacco waste and how bad it is for our environmental environment, it made me really think about other things we do that are hazardous to our environment without even thinking about it.