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Blog : Posts tagged with 'misleading'

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Greenwash

In which we consider how to package coffee sustainably


When I was growing up, back in the heyday of capitalism, “caring for the environment” was seen as a bit of a fringe activity. In school, we were all taught how important it was; but in the real world, nobody really paid much attention.

Fast forward to today: companies are falling over themselves to be Environmental, and to show that they Care with big green hugs, pretty flowers and all that. But in many cases this is pure greenwash: an attempt to look caring because they know that caring sells, because ticking the “environmental!” box makes their company look good. Look at the details, and there’s often no real benefit.

One advert that’s been out recently has been particularly annoying us. Kenco, who make reasonably tasty coffee, but whose advertising campaign is annoying, silly, and patronising. “We tried using 100% less packaging,” they lie, “but it didn’t work. So we’re using 97% less packaging instead.”

All well and good: less packaging equals less materials used equals less weight equals less fuel used in distribution. Sounds nice, on the surface. If you look at it with a longer-term eye, though, things aren’t quite so clear-cut. The traditional packaging, as you probably know,* was: glass jars. One of the oldest packaging forms there is, and one of the greenest. It’s so easy to recycle that we’ve been recycling it ever since it was first invented; all you do is clean it and melt it. OK, there was a period of 200 years or so when we didn’t bother; but glass recycling was one of the first forms of recycling to be widespread in this country in the modern period. Even back in the days when, as I said, I was growing up and nobody really worried too much about the environment, we would still take a trip to the village “bottle bank” once a week. I loved to take each jar from the bag, and jump up to get it in the hole, trying to get as loud a smash as I could.**

What have Kenco replaced their glass jars with? Plastic packets. What’s the recyclability of plastic packets in this country? Virtually nil. Can you reuse them for anything? Virtually nothing. So, we go from glass jars which can be easily reused or recycled, to plastic packets which are useless after you get them home, and have to go for landfill. Change in packaging weight: a 97% drop. Change in waste produced: an increase of enormous proportions. Not quite such a good-looking result. Moreover, glass is made from sand, of which there’s no great shortage; plastic is made from oil, which is getting harder and harder to find. Oh dear.

The big disadvantages of glass packaging, of course, are weight and bulk. Less packaging weight means lower transport costs, and less fuel used. Yes, true, this is a good thing for the environment. It’s even better for Kenco, though. I suspect there’s one single big purpose behind this change: cutting Kenco’s transport costs. Their purpose in the world, after all, isn’t to heal the environment, and it isn’t even to make reasonable-tasting coffee. It’s to make money for their owners, by a) selling more coffee and b) lowering the cost of producing that coffee. Trying to persuade us that their cost-cutting is good for the environment will, I assume, help them sell more coffee to some people. In the long run, though, it’s a much less sustainable way to package. It’s not really as good for the environment, as they’d like us to think.

* and still being produced, of course

** And that’s not counting glass milk bottles and fizzy drink bottles, sold on deposit and reused many times over by the manufacturers since, ooh, the railways first came along and made large-scale distribution practical.

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Fiction

In which FP gets annoyed by a TV advert


Now, I know I shouldn’t believe advertising. I know I should assume that most people probably don’t believe advertising, and I shouldn’t let myself get worked up about it. But, still, something has been getting my goat lately.

Crisps. One particular brand of crisps, in fact, whose adverts ramble on about some intrepid traveller finding particularly tasty spices overseas, and shipping them home so he could use them to flavour his crisps. And they go on:

That traveller’s name was Phileas Fogg…

No. No, it wasn’t. Phileas Fogg is a fictional character. He’s not real. He was invented by an author, for a book. He’s conveniently old enough to be out-of-copyright, so you can take his name and use it to brand your savoury snacks. So, he didn’t go to Indonesia or wherever and discover tasty spices, because he doesn’t exist. So stop lying to us.

Phileas Fogg: the crisps with the blatant lies in the adverts.

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Not Photo Post Of The Week

In which we don’t have many photos, but do have some of the latest guided busway gossip


Back in August, we went away to Cornwall. As you’d expect, I took the camera, and took hundreds and hundreds of photos. They slowly went online – very slowly, because I’m impatient, and it takes a long time to upload photos when each one weighs about 4Mb.

Moreover, a few weeks after we got back from Cornwall, we moved house; and after we moved house, we were offline for about two months whilst we argued with various broadband providers whether our flat really existed or not. All that time, we were out taking more photos, which slowly built up. As a result, when we did finally get online, I had a rather large backlog of photos to deal with. Plenty of photos for me to upload 30-35 photos per week, and post the best few on here every Friday.

800-odd photos later, though,* the end is in sight. I’m still working on the photos from the Easter weekend, but after that, that’s about it. The backlog is over, and I’m going to be putting photos up within a few days of taking them. Which leaves Photo Post Of The Week a little stuck, without the regular flow to pick the best of. I’m not entirely sure what to do with it. Do I return to it when I have more to show, or do I go back and post here photos that I took months or years back? I’m still trying to decide. Maybe it will just be replaced, with a sign like this:

Sign, Bedminster

In the meantime, there have been more Bristol Guided Busway developments following my most recent post on the topic. Chris Hutt yesterday published “At Last, The Truth” about the history of the West of England Partnership’s plans for Prince St Bridge, and Bristol Traffic has pointed out that their plans to replace the Bristol-Bath Cycle Path with a buses-only road are still marked out clearly on their maps despite being tactfully edited out of the text, which merely mention their aspiration to build an Ashton-Emersons Green route one day. Personally, I think Chris is being a tad optimistic as to whether he’s discovered the truth and the whole truth, as you could say, but we’re certainly closer to it than we’d be if we were relying on the West of England Partnership’s own somewhat misleading and vague publications and press releases.

* Or “800 odd photos later”, you could argue.

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Not All Of The Following Is True

In which FP tries to confuse you


As it’s April 1st, here is a post containing outright lies. Roughly half of the following statements* are true. Others are completely made up. Guess which are which.

I know it’s already the afternoon, and by tradition April Fools should only be done in the morning. Nevertheless, I don’t care.

1) I have never driven a train.

2) I have had sex with everyone I’ve ever kissed, apart from relatives.

3) Recurring blog character Big Dave doesn’t actually exist – if I’ve done something I want to blog about, but don’t want to admit to it myself, I attribute it to him.

4) I have an “available for dating” profile on a popular BDSM-oriented website.

5) This website is named after a real piece of woodland called “Symbolic Plantation”, a few miles from my house.

6) I have never worked in any field that I actually have qualifications in.

7) I was born in the Far East.

Go on, tell me which ones you think are lies.

* And all of the footnotes.

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If I told you what you were thinking, would you believe me?

In which FP considers being evil


The other day, Tim Boucher linked to Colleague M’s ghost story, in which M’s sister Lydia had a bit of trouble with a pair of argumentative ghosts apparently haunting her house. When I first heard about the ghosts, I was hoping I’d be able to post regular updates on the story; but there don’t seem to have been any updates recently. I asked M if anything had happened, and was told that everything has settled down quietly again. No more ghostly voices on the phone, no more things going missing, no more possibly-possessed cats. So, Lydia is able to sleep at night again.

It did get me thinking, though. There’s something I’m tempted to try, but it would be rather evil. I want to try to be a psychic myself.

Not a real one, you understand. However, it should be very easy to pretend to be one, if I want. I’ve still not met Lydia herself, but I do know rather a lot about her, and her family, from M. Secondly, Lydia’s job includes shifts on an enquiry-desk type of place. In other words, it’s easy to get to talk to her – all you have to do is think of a question. All I would then have to do is start telling her the things my intuition was telling me. “You seem to be a mother – I can see a lot of love in your household – but there’s a lot of strain too. Are you a single mother?” And all that sort of thing. The question is: how far would I be able to push this before she starts smelling something fishy? How much would I have to prove I know about her? Or would she just assume I could genuinely sense things about her?

Should I try this? Or would it just be too evil of me?

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Practically joking

In which the TV is cruel


Like, I imagine, many other people, I watched the first episode of the new Channel Four series Space Cadets with a slightly queasy feeling. If you’re foreign and haven’t heard about it – or if you’ve been in outer space, of course – it’s a show where former drug-dealer Johnny Vaughan* makes fun of the gullible and easily fooled, by persuading them they’re going to be Britain’s first reality-TV astronauts.

It’s a rather nasty hoax to pull on someone, even if they are a bit gullible. It’s only going to work – I mean, it’s only going to draw the audience in – if the contestants are so stupid that we all feel sorry for them; or are so nasty that we want them all to look like pillocks. At the moment that’s impossible to tell, because episode one – which was all about the audition and selection of the contestants – barely featured the actual contestants at all. Instead, most of the screen time was given over to the production stooges, and their efforts to look like genuine applicants.

I’m going to keep watching, even though I’m doubtful about the entire ethics of the thing. For one thing – like nearly all “reality tv” game shows – the first episode looked as if it will be completely unrepresentative of the series. For another, I’m going to be rooting for the contestants to see through the hoax – even if that does mean they won’t win any of the prize money.

* Referring to him as the former drug-dealer Johnny Vaughan is a rather mean and childish thing to do; but then, Space Cadets is a rather mean and childish show.

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