If this doesn’t say “green” I don’t know what does. Image by Ben Schumin
Greenwashing, or making misleading claims about a product’s environmental credentials, has become a commonplace commercial and environmental issue. More and more people are speaking with their wallets when it comes to environmental issues, and they’ve demanded “green” versions of the products they use every day.
This has led to some amusing incidents. An industry group for palm oil, one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet that’s responsible for the death of a good chunk of Indonesia’s forests, advertised all palm oil as “sustainably grown”.
But now the greenwashing has reached new heights of ridiculousness. I think we can say that greenwashing has officially jumped the shark now that cigarette companies are on board.
Yes, you read that right. The world’s largest tobacco companies are rushing to highlight how green they are to customers and potential new smokers.
I don’t know about you, but I doubt many people are being swayed to start smoking because they hear it’s environmentally friendly now. Nevertheless, big tobacco companies are out to get the coveted eco smoker market.
Recently, tobacco companies have taken to publishing corporate responsibility reports. These highlight the companies’ alleged green impacts, mostly slightly more sustainable growing methods.
What they fail to mention is the massive environmental problems associated with tobacco growing today. Tobacco growing is immensely destructive to the world’s forests. Tobacco companies mostly grow in the developing world, where huge amounts of trees are being cleared to allow for plantations to expand. This rapid deforestation has allowed desert areas to spread. One example of this is Uganda, where deforestation for tobacco fields has led to a sizable chunk of land becoming a virtual desert.
It’s been estimated that 600 million trees a year are cut just to provide fuel for the fires to dry tobacco leaves. One of every eight trees is cut down to facilitate tobacco production worldwide.
The cigarette industry knows that there are smokers who can’t kick the habit, but still want to go green. Recently, roll your own cigarettes have been promoted as a more eco friendly, cleaner alternative to regular smokes. That’s not the case, however, as roll your own cigarettes were recently found to have more chemicals than regular cigarettes.
Other companies are rolling out organically grown cigarettes. While this tobacco isn’t doused in pesticides during its growth, the previously mentioned problems still apply. So what’s a green smoker to do? Nothing.
There is no green cigarette. If you care more about the planet, and your health for that matter, than you do for cigarettes than do everyone a favor and quit. Smoking is a personal choice and nobody can or should be able to force you to quit, but you’ll be doing yourself and the world a favor if you do. Don’t let a marketing initiative convince you that a bad personal habit is anything but a bad habit for the planet as well.
Info from Guardian