GREENWASHING ENABLED BY CELEBRITY HYPE

Long gone are the days when I didn’t research my favorite celebrities. One such favorite was Emma Watson, who was announced as the new muse and ambassador for Prada on August 18th, after asking on their Instagram stories ‘’who is she?’’ as if we didn’t see her the last 20 years, she is not a newbie.

My first thought was ‘’wait, Prada was rated by Goodonyouapp as Not Good Enough, so the perfume must be shady as well’’ and I was right. Prada’s fragrances are not cruelty-free, not even the latest release called Paradoxe, as in they could be tested on animals such as bunnies whether directly by the brand or indirectly by suppliers or third-party, they even sell in mainland China, where such tests are still required by law.

Emma Watson and Prada wanted to come across as sustainable in the new behind the scenes video. Yet, only the 100ml bottle of the perfume is refillable. Ethically all available 30 and 50ml bottles should also be refillable in Prada stores(later edit: Prada customer service confirmed via chat support that all sizes are refillable, a refill is sold separately and offer refills in stores). They failed to explain what exactly is sustainable about Emma’s self-image campaign advert, which barely featured the perfume(Paradoxe) she was expected to sell/promote(later edit: in Emma Watson’s refill tutorial she says a % of glass, metal, plastic and cardboard are saved).

Three photos of Emma leaked already, which is surprising to me, even the behind the scenes video was not posted by official accounts which showed lack of professionalism handling the campaign(later edit, only the teaser and bts were posted by the muse). Emma Watson did fire her Prosper PR team after she received backlash over black squares posted on her Instagram account. She must have thought she has the last word when she posted black squares recently, on the same Instagram account.

All so called luxury brands want to be perceived as sophisticated, expensive, yet testing on animals is an unnecessary practice, they could have easily said a firm ‘’NO’’ to selling their products where such practices are still required, but one can guess business and profits are above the ‘’do not harm’’ principle. If they wanted to be sustainable they would have taken action in that direction. This is another example of greenwashing enabled by celebrity hype. Is it really luxury if animals are slaughtered for a perfume?

Photo by Mack Breeden.

Emma herself is not an (eco)activist as she flew during the pandemic for leisure, nor a feminist(slut-shamed women at 17 and was named in the Panama Papers with an off-shore company among many other unethical things) or anything close to sustainable(she is mostly papped shopping for fast fashion for which there’s plenty of photographic evidence, never for a book, music or art supplies).

I wonder what happened to ”we have so much power to change the world just by being careful in what we buy”(February 2019 on Goodonyou) and ”I have committed to only purchasing and wearing brands that are rated ‘It’s A Start’  or above, as I want to be able to support brands moving in the right direction.”(Vogue UK 2020) as most of her sartorial choices were rated Not Good Enough by the same company she endorsed(search a brand here).

Lack of a PR team means that news of her relationship with Brandon Green(son of Arcadia Group owner P. Green) overshadowed the news of her Prada collaboration instead of the ad. A paradox – so the name of the fragrance fits Emma like a glove. The only ones who publicly spoke about Emma are other actors like Jessie Cave(who played Lavender in you know which film), festival staff.

I’m not falling for greenwashing enabled by celebrity hype anymore.

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COP 26: JUST TALKS, CARBON-HEAVY FOOD & RACISM

What is COP26 and who attends it? COP stands for ‘’Conference of the Parties’’ or countries where 26 marks the 26th year the parties or countries meet up, this year in Glasgow, Scotland. It ran between 12/10/2021 and 12/11/2021, so it just wrapped.

This year’s COP had almost 40,000 delegates registered, suggesting it was the biggest COP to date. Brazil had 479 delegates, just a few delegates shy from 566 they had at COP15. In a press release, Global Witness reported that 503 fossil fuel lobbyists ‘’affiliated with some of the world’s biggest polluting oil and gas giants, have been granted access to COP26, flooding the Glasgow conference with corporate influence’’, but I never heard of Fossil Fuel country before. Good thing Elon will fly us to Mars.

It’s always been a gender disproportionate event too, in a chart made by Joe Goodman we can see COP26 shifted to having 65% males and 35% females. Republic of Moldova had most females on their team (89%), and the UK was one of 8 delegations to maintain a 50-50 balance. As a Romanian, to my surprise, saw that Romania had 33 males with 16 females(67% – 33%). Why so many men? I guess they didn’t want to stay home, they were exhausted from the many lockdowns and restrictions, and their gov duties piled up, can’t relate.

The COP26 menu was equally legendary! Did you think they’d hold such an big event without food?! It contained several categories: Fish and chips, Pasta, Pastries(you can’t have negotiations without these), Pizza, Scottish larder, International larder, Wraps and baguettes. Being that the host was traditionally Scottish half of the meals contained meat, as reported by Sarah Wilson for The Big Issue. Where’s the recipe for change If those meals which contain meat have the highest carbon footprint? But at least they were sourced locally.

In the Scottish Larder category, they had ‘’Haggis, Neeps & Tattis’’ cost 6.5 GBP and used 3.4kg of carbon, its vegetarian option only 0.6kg of carbon. Only two thirds of the menu options used below 0.5kg of carbon. The menus were measured by Swedish start-up Klimato to help delegates ‘’choose the dishes with the lowest carbon footprint”. Who thought this was a good idea? The menu didn’t remain anonymous for too long, it trended on Twitter with the line “It’s like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference’’ made by Joel Scott-Halkes, who is a spokesperson for Animal Rebellion. So the COP was just talks and carbon-heavy food.

This year’s COP caught my attention not only because I’m a PR student who intended to write about it, also because one of my favorites Emma Watson was invited by The New York Times to host a session for their Climate Hub. This session’s panel was composed by 9 young activists aged between 18-24(Watson, 2021). I was shocked how fiercely dedicated and eloquent they are about the issues they stand for. Much to my dismay, Tori Tsui and Dominique Palmer reported racism at the COP without naming anyone, and Mya-Rose Craig shared on Twitter: ’’That is why @COP26 was doomed’’ and called for a Revolution.

Her mother, Helena Craig, shared with me via Twitter private message the many challenges Mya-Rose faced, not only at COP. It often meant dealing with being deliberately overlooked by local media ’’unless they benefitted’’, the NGOs she volunteered for didn’t even ask her what she was doing at COP, instead taking white school boys.

Greenpeace did not respond to Mya-Rose’s request to receive a blue zone pass despite being an Oceans Ambassador, Helena recounted that journalists decided they were in the blue zone at the COP, chose other people there and dropped her from tv interviews. This was too much to deal with so Mya-Rose decided to leave COP like several other young activists including Dominique Palmer.

Dominique Palmer also reported on the regress UK made post-COP: rejected to join BOGA (Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance), ‘’new Cambo oil and gas field, 40 new fossil fuel extraction projects in the pipeline, not accepting loss and damages as their historic debt to these countries and paying their share’’, so if UK did this, Romania can only follow suit. I can see how COP26 was just talks, carbon-heavy food and filled with racism.

The fossil fuel companies who attended COP26 are often well represented. Take Edelman, who represents Exxon Mobil, who reportedly had private talks with activists to drop their fossil fuel client, because as Aurora James stated in an Instagram post: ’’They often invite people like us to join sustainability campaignson hehalf of their clients’’ and that those private conversations ’’led nowhere’’ so Aurora and over 100+ designers, models and activists made their message to Edelman public. Them and the rest of companies who are responsible for 71% of all global emissions, so it’s getting rather slippery in Fossil Fuel country.

REFERENCES:

Anon, 2021. Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists flooding COP26 climate talks. Global Witness. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/press-releases/hundreds-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-flooding-cop26-climate-talks/

Aurora James, 2021. @Edelman is the world’s largest PR firm. Instagram. Viewed [11/16/2021]. Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWBr24QJG2m/?utm_source=ig_embed

Dominique Palmer, 2021. The UK words: green revolution, climate leader, keep 1.5 alive... Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://twitter.com/domipalmer/status/1459853294608736258

Emma Watson, 2021. So, what IS COP26 ??? Instagram. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVYRnQpJNn9/

Emma Watson. Sneak peek of COP26 panel. Instagram. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWQdMhMt3Ma/

Mya-Rose Craig, 2021. Central to the #climateaction. Twitter. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://twitter.com/BirdgirlUK/status/1459601702441660427

Mya-Rose Craig, 2021. Did you know that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all global emissions? Twitter. Viewed [11/16/2021]. Available from: https://twitter.com/BirdgirlUK/status/1430574876662902786

Robert McSweeney, 2021. Analysis: Which countries have sent the most delegates to COP26? Carbon Brief. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-which-countries-have-sent-the-most-delegates-to-cop26

Sarah Wilson, 2021. The COP26 menu is ‘like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference’. The Big Issue. Viewed [11/14/2021]. Available from: https://www.bigissue.com/news/environment/cop26-haggis-the-most-unsustainable-dish-at-glasgow-climate-conference/