Innocent slips up, M&S saves some money and rabbits sell cars

Innocent mistake

Innocent Drinks’ recent media embarrassment shows that even the most progressive brands have to stay firmly on their toes when it comes to sustainability, as scrutiny mounts on the integrity of their green claims.

Climate change campaigners at Rising Tide (don’t worry, they want less climate change, not more) usually reserve their sometimes petulant wrath for oil majors such as Shell and BP. Now they have turned their attention to companies, such as the fruit smoothie maker, that perhaps care a little more about what the campaigners think.

Rising Tide has accused innocent of greenwash for wrongly claiming in its publicity that it does not transport its fruit via road. Innocent founder Richard Reed admitted to the Telegraph newspaper that some of the company’s fruit is blended outside the UK and then driven in lorries in Europe before being bottled in Britain.

Reed said that since moving production overseas, innocent had some misleading information on its website about only transporting fruit by “boat or rail”. The company has corrected this to say it will only carry fruit by “land or sea”. It will continue to avoid moving goods by air.

Innocent also points out that blending fruit in Rotterdam, the port where all its fruit comes into, is better for its carbon footprint than moving it all uncrushed to the UK for processing into its drinks. The company has promised to be more open with customers about where and how its products are made in future.

Oh, environment

Canadians mostly do not believe a word of companies’ green claims, or so says a new survey. The study of 1,500 Canadians finds that most consumers in Canada believe that corporate environmental claims are just marketing ploys.

But then the survey, by research wizards at the Gandalf Group, also says that “80% of Canadians consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions”.

Interestingly, the survey indicated that two-thirds of Canadians do not believe that it costs more to produce green products. While this is certainly true some of the time, perhaps companies marketing in Canada have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to pushing premium sustainability-related products with over-eager marketing.

The survey shows that recycling was the winning issue among our northern American chums, but apparently only 38% of them would consider paying more for energy-efficient appliances.

If the customer really is king, companies will have to work harder to please sustainability-minded Canadians. There’s more at

Bags of tricks

When it started charging customers for plastic carrier bags, Marks & Spencer must have known the move would not prove universally popular. One contrarian-minded blogger, on the Fake Plastic Souks blog, may speak for many shoppers angry at how the UK retailer has passed on the costs of bags to customers while bagging some free, positive, media coverage for itself.

M&S gives the 1.85p profit it makes on the 5p bag charge to Groundworks, an environmental charity. The remaining 3.15p covers the costs of the bag. M&S saves the £12.4m cost of the 394m plastic food bags it hands out every year – a sum now paid for by customers.

The blogger says: “We get inconvenienced but all keep quiet about it because we’re, well, just terribly British. More fool us. I think it’s crap that M&S has got us to pay for its bags and dressed it up as a ‘green’ initiative. If it really gave a hoot, it’d match the donation the hapless consumer is being forced to make – in M&S’s name.”

In response, M&S said that since it introduced charging in May, it has seen an 80% reduction in the number of carrier bags used by customers and raised more than £200,000 for Groundwork.

A spokesman said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers support charging and are already helping us to make a huge difference by bringing their own bags in with them when they shop with us.”

Bunny-friendly SUVs

An eco blogger, calling himself Frog, spotted a masterful example of some superb over-egging of the sustainability pudding by Toyota.

The carmaker famous for selling the Prius hybrid is promoting its RAV4 diesel sports utility vehicle in the US with the tagline: “The car nature wants to own”. The advertisement features three rabbits – presumably representing nature – standing on each other’s shoulders to get a look into the car.

Greenwasher guesses that Toyota’s next environmental or community initiative may feature rabbits being taught to drive in line with their inclusivity agenda.

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