TheChocolateLife::LIVE – Does Ben+Jerry+Tony = Greenwashing?

TheChocolateLife::LIVE – Does Ben+Jerry+Tony = Greenwashing?

OR: The Good, The Bad, & The Greenwashing! Episode 56 streams live on Friday, Sep 2nd from 12:00 EDT and is a continuation of the discussions about what chocolate is ...

Vermont’s official nickname is The Green Mountain State. With the recent announcement that the state’s iconic ice cream brand – Ben & Jerry’s (owned by Unilever) – has partnered with Tony’s Chocolonely (supplied by Barry Callebaut) the question on the tip of my tongue is, “Should Vermont change its nickname to The Green Washing State?

At the same time, a ChocolateLife member asked,

“In Australia there is a mindset that if there is a label stating ‘fairtrade,’ ‘rainforest alliance,’ or ‘organic,’ etc, the product must be good. Yet it is rare for these products to look after the farmer/the grower.

For example, there is a maker here that states their products are “single origin” and “fairtrade” and “hand crafted,” yet I know they use Callebaut chocolate and also state they are bean to bar makers. So, let me sum up the above, a topic that looks at ways to guide a consumer to understand when greenwashing is occurring.”

It’s a great observation, and, following up on the conversation in the immediately prior live stream (click on the card below) the combination of the question and the announcement of the Ben+Jerry+Tony collab I thought it made sense to talk about Greenwashing, which to my mind, is a form of gaslighting.

TheChocolateLife::LIVE – What IS Craft Chocolate?
Episode 55 of TheChocolateLife LIVE streams on Tuesday, August 30 from 12:00 EDT. Having done a deep dive into what chocolate legally is (and isn’t) here in the US recently, it’s way past time to take a stab at what Craft Chocolate is (and isn’t).

What Even Is Greenwashing, Anyway?

green*wash: (n) Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
The Tenth Edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary
Greenwashing - Wikipedia

TerraChoice, an environmental consulting division of UL, describes “seven [deadly?] sins of greenwashing” and says that 95% of consumer products claiming to be green were discovered to commit at least one of these sins:

  1. Hidden Trade-off: a claim that a product is “green” based on an unreasonably narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues.
  2. No Proof: a claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible information or by a reliable third-party certification.
  3. Vagueness: a claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. “All-natural,” for example, is not necessarily “green.”
  4. Worshiping False Labels: a claim that, through words or images, gives the impression of a third-party endorsement where none exists.
  5. Irrelevance: a claim that may be truthful but which is unimportant or unhelpful to consumers seeking environmentally-preferable products.
  6. Lesser of Two Evils: a claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting consumers from the greater environmental impact of the category as a whole.
  7. Fibbing: a claim that is simply false.

To which I will add an eighth sin of my own surmise – Inundate: Present a mountain of statistics and figures and words in the hopes of convincing by overwhelming.

Greenwash 101 Fact Sheet | corpwatch
Here is a CorpWatch Fact Sheet about Greenwash.
History and more.

The News

Ben & Jerry’s New Flavor Addresses The Controversial Chocolate Industry
When ice cream serves a purpose, it’s even sweeter. Check out Ben & Jerry’s new flavor that’s fighting against the controversial chocolate industry.
Consumer press
Tony’s Chocolonely and Ben & Jerry’s embark on a cocoa ‘love affair’
The two companies, known for their passion for social justice, said they were working together because of their shared commitment to end slavery and child labour in the chocolate industry by using sustainably sourced cocoa beans.
Trade press

Why this “partnership?” Why now?

Tony’s annual FAIR reports - Tony’s Chocolonely
Every year, we publish our annual FAIR report to update you about our impact and our mission. What went well, and where we can do better.
Sustainability reporting centre
Sustainability Reporting Centre
Issouf Coubaly et. al v. Nestlé, Cargill, Barry Callebaut, Mars, Olam, Mondelēz, and Hershey. — IRAadvocates
“Ancient” vs “Modern” slavery, in the words of Tony’s, seems to involve trafficking – modern slavery is different from ancient (chattel) slavery because it does not involve trafficking? This lawsuit alleges that trafficking does exist in cocoa farms today.

Nestlé and Unilever Greenwashing Tricks - Plastic Soup Foundation
Unilever and Nestlé greenwashing have a new trick: excavate landfill sites for the cement industry to meet their pledges about plastic. Read.
Study finds around 15% of Ivory Coast’s cocoa farms are in protected forest
Around 15% of cocoa farms in the world’s top grower Ivory Coast are in protected forest areas, potentially breaching standards expected in upcoming European Union law, a study commissioned by the country’s sector regulator found.

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