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So, which is it - Earth Day, or Greenwashing Day?

By: Don Loepp

April 22, 2013

Earth Day is 43 years old, and it's starting to make me believe in the (even older) counterculture phrase, "Don't trust anyone over 30."

Why am I so cynical? It's tough to take Earth Day seriously when most of the items I see about the birth of the environmental movement are generated by the PR departments at big corporations.

Coca-Cola, Haggar Clothing, Nestle Waters North America, Office Depot, and many more companies took the opportunity this year to put out press releases about their environmental efforts.

So, is that a good thing? Does it mean environmentalism is so mainstream that even corporate America is on board?

That's one way to look at it. And that fits with my theory that nearly everyone is a self-identified environmentalist.

Plus, I admit that Earth Day is a great time for companies to get out their environmental message and highlight their green credentials. There's value in that -- many companies really do a lot on behalf the the planet. So if you're a company that wants to tell that story, it may seem appropriate to do it on April 22.

On top of that, some companies may feel compelled to give their side of the story on Earth Day because otherwise they would be under attack. There are people who think that companies that sell bottled water -- like Coke and Nestle, for example -- don't have the right green credentials. Critics like Think Outside the Bottle want attention on Earth Day too.

But the corporate take-over of the Earth Day message doesn't sound authentic to me. Am I the only one?

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Data about plastics recycling is important -- that's one reason Plastics News gives prominent play to stories about recycling rates for bottles, film & bags, non-bottle rigid packaging and other products.

For Earth Day, ReCommunity (a group which does recycling in various communities) is listing how much it collected for the year, broken down by material. The data is compiled in annual sustainability reports, by locality. Check out the reports and see if your hometown is among those listed.