Week 5

Alphabetical brand archive


“While it’s good that Jeff Bezos is finally recognizing that we’re facing a climate crisis, he needs to tackle Amazon’s massive climate emissions more quickly and effectively in order to create sustainable climate solutions. Last year, Amazon.com finally released some data on its climate emissions, which are staggering. The company emitted 44 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2018, including indirect sources. That is larger than the emissions of United Parcel Service and FedEx. It’s also larger than the emissions of tech competitors Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Microsoft. Amazon should be working aggressively to reduce those emissions and taking action to address prior years’ emissions on the planet, like Microsoft recently agreed to do.” Source

And that’s only looking at how the company runs – there is a bigger issue with ‘Prime’ and even a service titled ‘Prime Now’ where customers/members of Amazon Prime can order anything for next day/two hours delivery. That is speedy, convenient shopping – but terrible for the environment. These services use individual couriers which deliver items to neighbourhoods using cars:

“Those drivers’ cars are typically smaller than commercial delivery vehicles, so they can’t fit as many packages or complete as many deliveries per tour. They’re taking longer routes, too. “Drivers are going from their home base to a warehouse to your house, and back to their home base. And warehouses are farther than the store you would have gone to,” Goodchild said.” Source



“Burberry’s annual report, released in June 2018, says, “The cost of finished goods physically destroyed in the year was £28.6m [about $37.8 million], including £10.4m of destruction for beauty inventory.” In 2017, they burned £26.9 million worth — all in the name of exclusivity.” Source

Although Burberry no longer destroy their goods due to ‘intense media scrutiny’ Source and stopped with immediate effect, they’re not the only company that does this. Fashion is particularly poor with regards to its sustainable approach, as companies 1) want to encourage fast fashion as opposed to buying a garment and keeping it for a long time and 2) burning the excess products which don’t sell is awful for releasing emissions into the atmosphere.


  • ‘Plant’ bottle campaign – actually used sugar cane to create the bottles, and still consist of PET plastic as only part of the bottle is made with sugar cane instead of fossil fuel.
  • This is a classic example of greenwashing, with a ‘plant’ logo and green campaign to trick people into thinking it is sustainable.
  • “The bottle is made of plant-based material instead of petroleum — but the plant-based material differs in quantity depending on where the bottle is sold. In Denmark, Coke says the bottle contains up to 15 percent plant-based material. Oe’s office says that is not sufficient to name the bottle PlantBottle and has asked the company to revise is marketing literature, the Times reports.” Source
Coca-Cola Unveils Re-Cyclable PlantBottle (Planet-Vending, 2015) | Download  Scientific Diagram

What Coca-Cola aren’t telling you: their bottle is still PET plastic. Their bottles have switched from using fossil fuels in production lines to sugar cane material, which harms wildlife and destroys plantations. “They’re just using plants to make the same polymers you find in other plastics. It has zero effect on plastic pollution,” says Marcus Eriksen, a marine expert who co-founded the nonprofit 5 Gyres a few years ago to study ocean plasticization in areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Source)

Furthermore, Coca-Cola are not trying to eliminate plastic. Their pledge highlights this on their website, clearly outlining their bottles are single use plastic and can be recycled, but only up to 90% of their current waste can be. Greenpeace’s Louise Edge (Senior Oceans Campaigner) has addressed this, stating “The massive increase in plastic waste in our oceans, and increasingly in our food chain, is a result of our dependency on throwaway items like single-use plastic bottles. Instead of focusing on reducing the amount of plastic it produces, the sure fire way to reduce ocean plastic pollution, Coca Cola is trying to offset its huge plastic footprint by investing in a bit more recycling. China’s refusal to accept more plastic waste, and the resulting backlog in plastic exporting nations, shows that we can’t recycle our way out of this mess while we continue to make the mess bigger.” Source Furthermore, a petition took place in London targeting Coca-Cola headquarters in 2018. Source

Exploring this further, a bottle bill could be a sensible solution, but Cola seem to be refusing to do so (source). It’s interesting as Coca-Cola initially began this incentive, where customers had to return the glass bottles in order to drink Coca-Cola.

A really good insight to Coca-Cola breaking sustainable promises from TalkingTrash:


“A January 1996 report by the National Labor Committee (NLC) uncovered that Disney’s “Mickey Mouse” and “Pocahontas” pajamas were made in a factory in Haiti that paid workers as little as 12 cents an hour, below the country’s minimum wage. The exposé pushed the factory owners to raise pay levels to the legal minimum of about 28 cents an hour, but a follow-up study reported that employees were still living “on the edge of misery,” especially since they were often short-changed by the factory. The report described some workers’ shock when they learned that the Pocahontas garments sold in the United States for $10.97—the equivalent of almost five days of their wages.

In 2002, the NLC sent investigators to the Shah Makhdum factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where about 450 workers made “Winnie the Pooh” shirts and jumpsuits bearing the Disney label. According to NLC’s finding, employees were required to work 14-to-15-hour shifts and seven-day workweeks but were not paid overtime as required by law. Their pay ranged from eight to 19 cents an hour. The factory was hot, crowded, and poorly ventilated. Workers were subjected to verbal and physical abuse. The drinking water contained high levels of bacteria. When workers complained about the working conditions, Disney moved its work elsewhere.

Iger inherited the company’s sweatshop problem but did nothing to address it. In 2007, the year after Iger became CEO, China Labor Watch reported on brutal conditions at Chinese factories making consumer goods for Disney. It found widespread labor violations in eight factories, including the hiring of underage workers, excessive overtime, unsafe conditions, and sexual harassment.

Two reports in 2012—by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice—and one in 2018 by China Labor Watch again detailed labor violations, destitution-level wages, and dangerous working conditions—including the risk of fire and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Disney has consistently claimed that it has no legal responsibility for these sweatshop conditions because it does not own any of the factories but uses subcontractors who produce the items based on Disney’s specifications. Even so, the company has asserted that it has its own monitoring system to guarantee that the conditions do not violate health, safety, and wage standards. Despite its vast resources, Disney’s monitors have routinely failed to uncover the inhumane conditions that human rights groups, which operate on shoestring budgets, have exposed year after year.” Source


“Companies like easyJet claim to take sustainability seriously, but their announcement of 12 new domestic routes, including one under 200 miles, shows they will not prioritise our planet’s health over their profits until they are forced to do so by law. The UK Government claims to be a climate leader but is considering lowering taxes on domestic flights despite them being cheaper than train fares on many routes. What will it take to make ministers understand that you can’t hit carbon reduction targets without carbon reduction policies?” Source


“Perhaps unsurprisingly, the footprint of an email also varies dramatically, from 0.3g CO2e for a spam email to 4g (0.14oz) CO2e for a regular email and 50g (1.7oz) CO2e for one with a photo or hefty attachment, according to Mike Berners-Lee, a fellow at Lancaster University who researches carbon footprints. These figures, however, were crunched by Berners-Lee 10 years ago. Charlotte Freitag, a carbon footprint expert at Small World Consulting, the company founded by Berners-Lee, says the impact of emailing may have gone up.

“We think the footprint per message might be higher today because of the bigger phones people are using,” she says. Based on the older figures, some people have estimated that their own emails will generate 1.6kg (3.5lb) CO2e in a single day. Berners-Lee himself also calculated that a typical business user creates 135kg (298lbs) CO2e from sending emails every year, which is the equivalent of driving 200 miles in a family car.

But it should also be easy to cut this down. By simply stopping unnecessary niceties such as “thank you” emails we could collectively save a lot of carbon emissions. If every adult in the UK sent one less “thank you” email, it could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the equivalent to taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road, according to energy company, OVO.” Source


“Ferrero, the world’s third largest chocolate company, is struggling to address concerns that multiple farms where it sources hazelnuts for its chocolate products may use child labour.

Ferrero buys roughly 30% of all the hazelnuts it uses in its products – including Ferrero Rocher – in Turkey, where child labour is widespread.” Source

“The child workers in the video claim they work without contracts or adequate health and safety equipment. “We walk to the field at 6:30 am and start working at seven or 7:30 am. We work until 6:00 pm. This is the second time I have come to work here,” a girl aged 11 said. Another 12-year-old girl said she has been picking hazelnuts for two years.” Source

Pesticide use effects on health

“Traditionally, the hazelnut tree, which is more like a shrub, is found on slopes and mountainsides where the roots can bind and stabilise steep terrain, helping to prevent land slippage. It flourishes best when grown within woods and forests where it is protected as part of a wider community of plant species, because every plant species carries within it a diverse apothecary of immunisation to ward off pests and disease. However, when confronted with the massive production quantity requirements of companies such as Ferrero, the hazelnut has to be farmed monoculturally, and becomes vulnerable to pests because there are no other plant species to protect it.

The solution? Chemicals. And lots of it. In fact, near in Lago di Vico, a small lake south of Lago di Bolsena, hazelnut plantations are much more established and the monocultural effect is openly visible.

An international research project recently proved conclusively that the water of Lago di Vico contains an excessive load of chemical contaminants derived from hazelnut crops. This then becomes even more shocking when you take into account that the area has seen a high level of unusual cancers over the past few years – specifically around the areas of intensive hazelnut farming.” Source


This feeds back into the research around data and data centres. Google claim to be efficient but I’m sceptical… How can an internet company so large globally not be harming the planet?

“When companies claim to be “100% renewable” they want us to think they’re getting 100% of their energy from wind and solar, the two most popular forms of “green,” “renewable” energy. But the truth is that Google is relying on local electricity grids to supply its energy needs and no grid on the planet can work with anything close to 100% solar and wind.

Solar and wind are intermittent sources that can never produce the right amount of energy at the right time. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, and so these sources require backup from reliable sources of energy like fossil fuels. What actually powers Google’s operations is a mix of energy sources: mainly fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, as well as nuclear power, hydropower, plus some smaller amount of some solar and wind power.

Take, for example, Google’s data center at Douglas County, Georgia. As Google states on its website, they chose this location because “Douglas County has the right combination of energy infrastructure, developable land, and available workforce for the data center.” What does that energy infrastructure consist of? Unfortunately, Google isn’t very transparent here, but according to data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Georgia’s power mix for 2016 was dominated by natural gas (40%), coal (28%), and nuclear power (26%). Wind and solar played only a minor role in the single digit percentages.” Source



This one is interesting on many levels. It goes past the physical store and more about what happens behind the scenes. Such as being not entirely ethically/morally correct and therefore not being entirely transparent with customers about companies they sponsor/companies that sponsor them:

“In any event, I am not quite sure why WWF allowed lights-on Ikea to use its logo to promote how it had “signed up to” (but not obeyed, obviously) the Earth Hour. Nor why it gave Ikea gratuitous publicity on its own site for half-heartedly complying with the Earth Hour. Well, actually I am fairly sure. Ikea and WWF have a long-term “business relationship”. Ikea gives cash and a few environmental initiatives, while WWF gives green kudos and some environmental advice.” Source

“There have been some hard questions asked about this relationship among other green groups. The Environmental Investigation Agency, for instance, recently pointed out that Ikea has not even managed to stamp out the use of illegally logged timber in its furniture, especially all those flat-packs supplied from China. Worse, the company has been actively opposing US laws set to come into force in July aimed at banning imports of illegally logged timber. Unless the company gets it overturned, every piece of furniture sold in an Ikea store in the US will be required to have a paper trail showing where the wood came from.

Even though other companies claim to be able to meet the rules, Ikea told federal regulators that “trying to trace this information to certify compliance all the way through the supply chain to the harvesting of each and every tree is unrealistic.” For unrealistic, read expensive. Perhaps WWF should give back that sponsorship money and ask Ikea to spend it checking its supply chains. Or is that “unrealistic” too?” Source

This intrigued me so I have dug a bit deeper and found this report – turns out IKEA have not been checking their supply chains –

IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer using timber to produce their famous flat-pack self assembly furniture and have cut ties with their material supplier Vilis LLC in Russia, following controversy surrounding illegally imported timber. According to Earthsight (2021) “…shoppers have been purchasing an IKEA product containing the suspect Russian lumber somewhere on earth every two minutes” resulting in the effect of this sustainable error being a global scale issue. IKEA believed they were trading with FSC certified companies but unfortunately upon investigation and response to Earthsight’s report, FSC announced their lease agreements with Vilis LLC had expired (Trushevskaya, 2021). In order to maintain their sustainability promises to consumers, IKEA needed to be reviewing their supply chain certification and ensuring it is valid.

“Now commitment to sustainability aside, IKEA’s minuscule Australian tax bill raises a lot of questions. Like many other multinationals operating in Australia, IKEA pays very little corporate tax when one considers its revenue. According to The Guardian, in the 2015-16 fiscal year, IKEA recorded $1 billion of revenue and paid a pitiful $11 million tax to the Australian government. In the previous two years, IKEA didn’t pay any tax!

It gets worse. The following year, in 2017, IKEA reportedly paid the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) just $289,000 tax – despite selling $1.16 billion of flatpacks! A quick search on Google and it’s clear that this kind of behaviour is not an isolated incident. IKEA is currently being scrutinised by the European Commission after the company was able to heavily reduce its tax bill by €1 billion or £880 million on revenue from stores around the world after dealings with the Dutch government, so reports The Guardian.” Source

Johnson & Johnson

“In October, the FDA announced it had found small amounts of asbestos in samples from a single bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder. Johnson & Johnson responded by recalling a single lot of baby powder.

Consumers have filed lawsuits saying they were misled into believing talc was safe and used it for many years. According to some lawsuits, plaintiffs developed ovarian cancer (…). They say that had they known Johnson & Johnson baby powder was linked to cancer, they would not have used it as they did.

In June 2019, a California jury found in favor of a former fifth-grade teacher who said her mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder. Bloomberg reported that Johnson & Johnson and Colgate must pay the woman nearly $10 million.” Source

“In a 2021 SEC filing, Johnson & Johnson said that it was setting assigned $4 billion for baby powder lawsuit and settlement expenses.

The company continues to face baby powder cancer lawsuits over the issue, however. Some juries have ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor, saying that plaintiffs’ cancer was not linked to baby powder, but some have not.”


McDonalds packaging is made of paper and cardboard, so is recyclable. However, anything that is contaminated with food product (grease for example) is not recyclable… So how does this work?

McDonalds released eco-friendly straws after protests and awareness raised around the impacts of their plastic straws. Unfortunately, these ‘eco-friendly’ straws are not recyclable and have to go in the general waste. Although McDonalds website hosts pledges on ‘Environment and Recycling’ and mentions plastic, I am seeing no evidence of this. I may actually need to order McDonalds food (unbelievably as part of my research!) and see what the packaging states about being recyclable and whether it all is recyclable, or only parts of it?

I have also noted there is no mention of compostable/biodegradable packaging. Maybe this is because it’s too expensive for them? Composting materials use less energy than recyclable materials…

“We are committed to listening to our customers and finding solutions with our suppliers that work for them. This is the latest example of that – but by no means the end. We continue to look for solutions for our cutlery and lids, for example, but this is great progress. For us, sustainability is about more than just packaging. We have to look at the whole journey – by 2030, we’re committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36%.” Source This quote from one of McDonalds supply chain director’s tells me McDonalds are interested in making their products sustainable and will be challenging their processes/materials in years to come. How can I ensure I appeal to these types of companies as I know they would be interested?:

  • Pricing

Eco-friendly materials are known for being expensive. Companies like McDonalds simply won’t invest. It’s non-negotiable; services need to be affordable and match competitors on the market. There needs to be a way to produce sustainable materials/services cost-effectively and ensure the client is involved and evolving; continual improvement.

  • Quality – form versus function

McDonalds wrappers need to keep food warm, hygienic and be environmentally friendly. This does not mean when the wrappers are on the burgers; it means the entire wrapper lifecycle. From storing and dispatching in a warehouse, using minimal space when transporting to the fast-food chains, in-store storage and efficient application to food, to protecting the food during use, and then when it’s being disposed of and the afterlife in the environment i.e. landfill, or a recycling point.


“Polyester is a polymer, or a long chain of repeating molecular units. The most common variety is polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, a plastic derived from crude oil that’s used to make soda and ketchup bottles. When melted, it has the consistency of cold honey, and if you squeeze it through a spinneret, kind of like the shower head in your bathroom, you get long, continuous filaments. Draw those filaments out into thin fibers, weave lots of those fibers together, and you have a fabric.” Source

World fiber production: polyester, cotton, and wool


“In 2015, it was revealed that VW had been using defeat devices on its diesel engines, causing them to only activate their emissions controls during laboratory testing. The result was these cars emitted up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving than they did under test conditions.

Although it had brushed off any discrepancies of this sort as technical glitches before 2015, VW was forced to come clean after hard evidence of defeat devices came to light. What happened in the following months and years was not just a shake-up of VW, but of the entire global automotive industry – not least among which is the introduction of the new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Testing Protocol (WLTP) – a new testing procedure for car fuel economy and emissions.” Source


Very cheap – made in China. This results in unethical work conditions as follows:

“The reality is that they are made by factories in China. “What’s the big deal?” one may ask. Easier gross production and more quantities for the lesser price, what could possibly be wrong with that? The issue on the table is that these factories do not perform ethical work conditions nor adequate payment to the their deserving workers, but instead exploit them for the company’s own financial gain.”

and when reading more of the article further, I read the following:

“Most of these workers in places like China are surprisingly children and young adults. With the late arrival of the items, foreign semantics are seen. Some packages have words and phrases that are written in Chinese dialect, which reveals that the products were made in China. When made overseas, a company such as Wish can separate itself legally and ethically from where these items are being made and by whom. As seen on the company’s website: “Wish acts as a marketplace to allow merchants who comply with Wish‘s policies to offer and sell certain goods within an optimized-price format. Wish is not directly involved in the transaction between buyers and sellers. As a result, Wish has no control over the quality, safety, morality or legality of any aspect of the items listed, the truth or accuracy of the listings, the ability of sellers to sell items or the ability of buyers to pay for items. Wish cannot ensure that a buyer or seller will actually complete a transaction.” By acting as a “marketplace” they can accept products made by those in places like China where they pay their working population unfairly and are known for exploiting those who are young. This is the reason behind why the shipment of most, if not all, items that are ordered takes several weeks. Many items have many defects and are inexpensive since they are made in countries where work laws are not strict and ethically bounding.” Source

This is probably only touching the surface of what goes on with China and pricing being so inexpensive. I would definitely like to pick this as a topic to explore further as it’s a really big problem.

XX Revolution

Rips off high end beauty brands. I did an article on this as part of research and theory in a previous module here

Yankee candle

“Over time, this changed and contemporary candles are made from paraffin, beeswax, soy wax, coconut wax, and other vegetable waxes. There is a huge variance in what candle wax is made from and also how each impacts the environment. 

The majority are made using paraffin, which is made from fossil fuels that are not only unsustainable but are also bad for your health and your home. They release a plume of carcinogenic materials into the air whenever they are lit and can leave soot damage behind even with a properly trimmed wick.

Scented candles could be bad for the environment. This is because most scented candles contain paraffin wax, which we have already determined is derived from petroleum, coal or shale oil. When the candles are burnt, the paraffin wax releases toxic compounds into the air, including acetone, benzene, and toluene, all of which are known carcinogens.Source


Zara is particularly notorious in the fashion industry for being unethical through lack of transparency. Examples include:

The working conditions and wages of Zara’s staff was poor and resulted in workers sewing messages into the garment labels such as ‘I made this item you’re going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.’ Source

Stealing independent designers work and making it their own with no credit – the Tuesday Bassen case is one of the most popular examples:

Fast-fashion – notoriously known for quick turnaround times from catwalk to high street. Surely this has implications?