Who’s on the Homethings naughty list?
2023 has seen some great Things – from massive renewable energy innovation, to new laws regulating recycling exports, technology tackling pollution and some pretty incredible rewilding projects too (is there anything more festive than a new generation of reintroduced baby beavers being born?).
But skulking in the background… are some sustainability Scrooges. Greenwashing Grinches. The naughty miscreants of the world, undoing the hard work of people trying to make planet positive changes. If you think about it, putting coal in their stockings is quite fitting.
So, are you ready to find out who’s at the top of our naughty list this year? It’s time to Dish the Dirt…
THE 1 PERCENT CLUB
A study by the Guardian has found that private jets belonging to just 200 celebs, CEOs, and billionaires have spent a combined 11 years in the air since the start of 2022. These 44,739 private journeys alone will have produced the same volume of emissions as the TOTAL carbon footprint of 40,000 Britons. And what makes it even worse, is that 40% of these flights will have had no passengers… flying somewhere to pick someone up.
With people across the globe working hard to cut down their air miles, hearing that the aircraft used by the Rolling Stones released the emissions equivalent to almost 3200 flights from London to New York is not only disheartening, but pretty infuriating.
The good news is that people are stepping up to take action, with organisations like ‘Stay Grounded’ leading the fight to get policymakers to put heavier taxes on frequent flying by private jet..
IT’S TIME TO CUT THE CR*P
Whilst sewage treatment bigwigs have been on the naughty list for a few years now, 2023 has been a particularly shocking year, with the regulators themselves (like Thames Water) being investigated for quietly allowing illegal waste releases. This year, untreated sewage was discharged over 399,864 times into UK waterways – the equivalent of more than 1,000 discharge events every day. This has led to an increase in sickness due to sewage pollution (almost 2000 cases + TRIPLE the number in 2022) and 60% of inland bathing spots now classified as ‘poor quality’.
On top of the environmental impact, the public has been paying hundreds of millions of pounds to treat sewage… that isn’t actually being treated. Because of this, some of the big regulators have promised to put millions of pounds into addressing discharges - but legal action will still be taken that should hopefully see some of that money returned to customers. Watch this space.
SKY HIGH GREENWASHING
When a company’s main (or only) way of meeting its sustainability goals is throwing a LOAD of cash at a tree planting or offsetting scheme… the alarm bells start to ring. When a company does this and then puts a massive ‘Carbon Neutral’ stamp on themselves… the alarm bells are ringing off the hook. When said company also is basically a fossil fuel burning machine… you get the picture.
This year, Delta Airlines have been on the receiving end of a lawsuit for promotional material claiming to be ‘the world’s first carbon-neutral airline’ after throwing $1billion at carbon offsetting schemes (which was pretty delusional from their marketing team). The lawsuit says that Delta’s claim is false, relies on junk offsets, and is misleading to customers… we’ll have to stay tuned to see what happens in court.
And Delta aren’t the only ones under fire. Over in the cleaning aisle, Unilever are being investigated for use of ‘vague and misleading’ language and covering their marketing material in imagery that might suggest that they’re an eco brand (think boxes covered in green leaves).
But don’t let these grinches get you down… they’re on some pretty big naughty lists - and hopefully in 2024 we’ll get to see justice served. It’s time to clean up
But however much damage control you have to do, at least you’ll have a cupboard full of cleaning products to save you (and the planet) a headache.