Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The new Green movement has a dark side.

Sweatshops, child labour, dodgy trade ministers, corporate sponsored murder and PR spin doctors. 

This is the talk about a shadowy world from which our sugary drinks and 5 pound tops come to us. A world we disturbingly know very little about.

Of course we hear alot of good things as well. Alot of things that the sceptical might just call "a soppy lefty" movement of "neo-hippies".

The Sunny Side of the Coin.                             

Recently  Bicester in Oxfordshire was made the 500th fairtrade town. This fairtrade movement spans 19 countries.

"Green labelling" has become the norm now. It's even become fashionable. Celebrities love to be seen in and promoting  "earth" brands.  Every company from Coco-cola to Starbucks is slapping them on their products.

Here's just a few: Coco partnered with WWF to protect watersheds paying 20 million dollars in 2007, the Costa Foundation,  Pepsico the largest beverage brand in the world funding nutrition research, Starbucks Fairtrade, Primarks ethical guarantee (Ethical Trade initiative), the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation.

Try this: type in an actor's name and put "foundation" after it.  Nine times out of ten you will find an organisation dedicated to saving the world, trees, tigers, nuclear disarmament. 

Most of these were set up in between Sadam Hussain's death sentence and Leona Lewis winning the X factor.

In the last year, our favourite chocolate bars such as Nestle and Cadbury's have gone fairtrade as being "green" is becoming normalised and trendy.

The director of India Resource Centre an anti-globalisation organisation in India says there is a sinister underbelly at work.

The Dark Side of the Coin.

"Corporate Social Responsibility is primarily a public relations exercise which allows companies to continue abuses in one area while advertising some social or environmental project elsewhere..." says Ami Shrivastava.
Coca-Cola workers murdered in Colombia. intimidated, tortured, kidnapped, illegally 
detained by paramilitary allegedly linked to Coco-cola.

    * 07/30/90 — Avelino Achicanoy — Pasto Plant
    * 04/08/94 — Jose Eleazar Manco David — Carepa Plant
    * 04/20/94 — Luis Enrique Giraldo Arango — Carepa Plant
    * 04/23/95 — Luis Enrique Gomez Granado — Carepa Plant
    * 12/05/96 — Isidro Segundo Gil — Carepa Plant
    * 12/26/96 — Jose Librado Herrerra Osorio — Carepa Plant
    * 06/21/01 — Oscar Dario Soto Polo — Monteria Plant
    * 08/31/02 — Adolfo de Jesus Munera Lopez — Barranquilla Plant

Primark stampede
India Resouces doesn't think that non-profit organizations should work with for-profit corporations to increase their market share.  It 

" Makes them look good, look greener, and more people will buy Coca-Cola because it can claim a “green” tag."

Its hard to tell if brands have a heart or if they just want to silence their critics and get more dosh from the new  "green"  market of consumers.

The principle is based on distraction. If challenged globally about their abuse in India they point to conservation projects elsewhere. . 

" But conserving water in China does nothing for the community in India who they deprive of water." says Ami.   The government of Kerala in South India filed for $48 million compensation from Coco-cola . Charges included draining water tables dry, diseases, water and air pollution.

Coca-cola India responsed by citing
their project with SOS Children's Villages of India on the Rainwater Harvesting Project at Anangpur, recently completed. This is our "commitment towards community development and water conservation".

The Killer Coke campaign was set up following sinister kidnappings and murder in Latin America of Coco-cola employers.  Coco-cola were linked to paramilitary thugs and the
Colombian Administrative Department of Security  

Lawsuits were filed against The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers in Colombia in July 2001 and June 2006. They sued on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, the major union representing Coke workers in Colombia, several of its members and the survivors of two murdered union leaders, Isidro Gil and Adolfo de Jesus Munera. 

The case was thrown out but Killer Coke says "it was discovered that the judge may have had serious conflicts of interest. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke believes Judge Martinez should be recused in light of his strong ties to the University of Miami and its athletics, which are intertwined with Coca-Cola".   Coco-cola says it has been cleared  of allegations.

Primark, which has gone from that place you get cheap clothes from on the quiet, to consumers shamelessly marauding baskets of goodies under ten pound, was mercilessly stalked by expose documentaries during the 00's. showing child labour and sweatshops in India, and even here in the UK.  Primark got its own "green label" in 2006 with ETI,  a not for profit organisation that takes on and helps members committed to improving their ethics.

When a documentary exposed a sweatshop linked to them in Manchester, they were immediately ordered to take the label off their website and stores.

ETI says
"Primark and other companies have struggled to monitor thousands of suppliers".
Being green has become so fashionable that even big global brands are being forced to cash in.  This year green friendly Innocent agreed a deal with Coco-cola to take their brand to the four corners of the world.  Money still talks bigger than values

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