Since we launched Ocean Bottle, action against the climate crisis has picked up pace. More people than ever are coming together to fight for climate action. While every positive action by every individual, corporation or government is a step in the right direction, with the growth of the movement has come a growth in corporate ‘greenwashing’. Companies have realised the currency of sustainability, and with it a need to publicise their ‘green’ credentials, charitable donations or social responsibility actions, but often without the scrutiny required to fully understand their effectiveness. Back when we first started, we wanted to ensure we took a ‘No Bullshit’ approach to sustainability. Now, that is more important than ever.
N.B.S is exactly what it suggests. It’s our dedication to sustainable credentials that cut through the B.S. Below the surface level of many companies’ ‘sustainable’ pledges, is a problematic system which has created sustainability short-cuts, allowing companies to pledge things like 1% of their profit to sustainable causes, without requiring any follow-up action. Pledging profit to a charity, or pledging to go carbon neutral, can never be a bad thing, but the system allows companies to rely on passive moves, rather than actionable changes.
The pledge problem - Net Zero
Businesses ‘going green’ and realising the importance of sustainable practices is an incredibly positive step, but as ever, this approach is not without its problems, or without B.S. Take Net-Zero commitments: Net-zero is a term that is used in government policy and in corporate pledges, but its basis is at best optimistic, and at worst totally unreliable. Some of the world’s largest companies have committed to net-zero pledges, but what does this actually mean?
Net-zero pledges can be achieved in a number of ways: changing business models, using recycled materials in production, switching to sustainable power. But by-in-large, the cheapest and easiest way to get to net-zero relies on the offsetting of carbon emissions, removing in equal amounts the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by a certain company, via a separate carbon reduction process such as rewilding, regeneration of farmland or replanting trees.
At its core, carbon-offsetting is a great thing, but it is a system that is easy to manipulate. Rather than companies having to change their business models or operational practices, they can essentially buy their way to carbon neutrality, without having to tackle the upfront issue of the emissions’ creation. Herein lies some of the sustainability B.S - a system that allows companies to buy their way out of a problem, while continuing to cause the problem in the first place. The problematic nature of carbon offsetting doesn’t end there - for a more in depth analysis - head to Green Biz where Jessie Klein sheds some light on some of the key issues with carbon offsetting.
Accountability is king
The carbon offset issue is a well-documented one, and the fragility of the systems by which carbon offset is valued and made accountable make it difficult to truly understand the impact of a green commitment. Sustainable and ethical promises have become tokenistic, and that is why a N.B.S approach is crucial. Businesses must become more accountable for their green promises, making their actions transparent, traceable and most importantly, impactful. Giving a percentage of profits to a ‘green’ cause is purely diversion from the root of the problem, and as consumers we need to make sure we’re scrutinising the companies we choose to support.
Many fast fashion brands have recently made pledges to become ‘more sustainable,’ but as with carbon offsetting, they are tackling issues created by their product, rather than the issues with the product itself - paperless returns, recycled faulty clothing and recyclable delivery bags are steps in the right direction, but they aren’t enough to tackle the issue that lies at the core of fast fashion and its unsustainable production practices. Read more about the problem with sustainable fashion here.
We are proud to have a product that does tackle the root of the issue, every Ocean Bottle funds the collection of 1000 plastic bottles in weight. Our practices are 100% transparent, and you can read more in our impact report here.