Fossil fuel ads are getting out of hand

We already knew this! In fact, there are plenty of stories, POV articles, think pieces from outlets themselves, and even Instagram accounts dedicated to this.

The danger of fossil fuel companies advertising “green products” or “sustainability practices” are many:

  • Big oil is not not, in fact, sustainable (SHOCKER!)
  • These ads undermine the organization they are advertised on (as they should!)
  • They give false information to consumers who may not know about, you know, the fact that big oil knew and lied about the climate crisis, and then orchestrated one of the biggest deception campaigns in history

This week, I opened my National Geographic subscription (they switched to paper wrapping instead of plastic because, you know, saving the planet!!!!) to see this issue is focused on “The End of Trash.”

Of course, I was elated! Nat Geo has been ya the forefront of plastic issues for a while now — they even had an entire issue/campaign dedicated to “Planet vs. Plastic.”

The campaign stated: “It’s unclear how long it will take for that plastic to completely biodegrade into its constituent molecules. Estimates range from 450 years to never.”

So imagine my dismay when I opened the advertorial on the cover to see that Dow Chemical wrote a whole infographic ENTIRELY DEDICATED TO SUSTAINABLE PLASTIC PRACTICES, including “a circular economy for plastic,” “expanding recycling,” and “responsible plastics use.”

Why am I pissed, you ask? Aside from the fact that none of these things really exist when it comes to plastic, Dow Chemical is company, along with Exxon, who is focusing on ramping up oil production as it relates to plastic production. In fact, prices for “high-density polyethlene” — essentially used in everything you use plastic for — are at an all time low.

At a time when the oil industry is gripped by fears that demand for petrol will collapse in an era of electric vehicles, many hydrocarbon producers are betting on petrochemicals — and in particular, plastics — to fill the gap.

Financial Times

And we know recycling doesn’t really work anyway.

To a normal consumer of news (and plastic), this might not look like a big deal. Hey — this big chemical company is trying to do better! And they’re giving me tips, too!

But a not-so-gentle reminder for you all: plastic is oil, and a surge of new production is on the way.

Some say that it’s an industry talking point to focus on plastic, but I would disagree: the more we can focus on getting rid of oil in our every day lives, the better.

Cover photo by WORKSITE Ltd. on Unsplash

One thought on “Fossil fuel ads are getting out of hand

  1. The sad fact is that plastics made our lives more comfortable and convenient and we (as a species) were too weak to resist their Siren call. And Dow (“better living through chemistry”) was (and apparently is) more than willing to feed this weakness in search of profits. Any chance of a sustainable future is predicated on us making the uncomfortable and inconvenient transition from plastics to truly degradable/recyclable alternatives. Whether we will or not is unclear at this point.

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