Although many large corporations are becoming more ecologically friendly, many corporations only adopt a publicly favourable facade of going green while not actually becoming more ecologically friendly. These companies are now creating their own allegedly ‘eco-friendly’ products and solutions, using green marketing so that consumers purchase their expensive products, while still contributing to pollution themselves.
These corporations have raised the cost of many trends that promote eco-consciousness, which has made ecologically friendly choices inaccessible for lower- to middle-class households, which represent the largest sector of the population.
For instance, larger corporations have commercialized increasingly popular activities like thrifting and veganism, both of which are beneficial in the fight against the climate crisis. This makes it difficult for many people to participate in these once affordable eco-friendly practices.
By developing expensive environmental solutions that many people cannot afford and thus cannot engage in, these corporations essentially shift blame for the climate crisis from themselves to the consumer.
Why is the commercialization of eco-friendly practices dangerous?
Eco-consciousness has largely increased within the past decade as the immediate and visible effects of the climate crisis have created a new sense of urgency. This has led to the widespread adoption of many eco-friendly practices such as thrifting, veganism and even the use of electric vehicles.
Additionally, the increasing popularity of eco-influencers on social media, that is, creators who promote eco-friendly lifestyles and raise awareness of environmental causes. These eco-influencers have made environmentally sound choices fun and trendy, appealing to large younger audiences and making eco-friendliness a widely accepted lifestyle.
However, the increasing popularity of these practices has led to their commercialization by larger corporations. By making practices such as thrifting and veganism expensive, these corporations have essentially made eco-friendliness inaccessible to the average person. What’s worse is that these corporations themselves sometimes engage in practices that harm the environment.
For instance, Tesla, branded as a company that strives toward a cleaner, greener future through the promotion of its electric cars, is constantly being hit with fines for its handling of hazardous waste and its production techniques, which contribute significantly to global pollution.
Berkshire Hathaway, a large investment, energy, and railway company, advertises a core principle of ‘environmental respect’ and pledges ‘transparency’ despite being the US’ fourth-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Beyond Meat, the non-organic monocultural vegan meal replacement company is annually under fire for refusing to release its emissions record.
All of these companies will sell their electric cars, energy, and food under the guise of accessibility and eco-consciousness. Yet, by attaching expensive price tags to their products, these companies are making eco-friendly practices inaccessible. Furthermore, while they claim that becoming their customer is contributing to climate preservation, they continue to destroy the planet behind closed doors.
How should we be eco-conscious instead?
By over-glamorizing once useful and affordable practices and engaging in practices that harm the environment, these large corporations are the real culprits of the climate crisis. It is downright criminal for these corporations to claim that purchasing their products is contributing to climate preservation while they produce tonnes of waste and pollution daily.
Young citizens need to understand that eco-friendly choices aren’t always going to be trending on TikTok, sold to you in a flashy package, or plastered across a billboard. The real way to help climate activists is to challenge the people who commercialized these practices in the first place, as they are often the entities contributing most to the destruction of the planet.
So, whenever a company tells you they’ve created a product or solution to help you lower your carbon footprint, remember that only 100 companies are responsible for over 70 per cent of global pollution.
Do not let these institutions shift blame. Don’t be afraid to thrift, go vegan, upcycle, and grow food in a less trendy way. Don’t be afraid to hold accountable the corporations that commodify these practices for their own gain.
Many large corporations will always prioritize profits over the planet. That’s why remember to always make informed decisions when it comes to engaging in environmental initiatives and practices.
Kayla Litschko is a second year student at University College studying History, Bioethics and Political Science. She is a climate columnist in The Varsity’s comment section.