One of the many pleasures of staying abreast of all the stuff Junkk.com feels it should stay on top of, is making links across a series of seemingly disconnected sources.
For instance, I have been entertaining myself lately with the antics of some of our major retailers (at least, as reported), who seem to have lately decided to bathe themselves in green a lot more than before, and thus suitably washed are quite aggressive/defensive in staking their competitive claims to be first, best, most, etc.
I accept most of what follows comes from the Telegraph (it would have been more striking had it spanned a few other colour shades of media, but as a lot is pretty factual it's worth working with me on this), but you can try this - Sainsbury's wrestles with Tesco for environmental high ground from the Indy - but their links don't seem to hold up for very long.
As followers of my blog will know, I have cocked a few eyebrows at some of the claims being made in this arena, and also lamented how little they have been delved into by the mainstream enviro-media who reprint their press releases.
So first up, to set the scene from another source than myself, there's this from the Telegraph Business Club, initiated by a question: “I would like to know peoples viewpoints on the ever increasing cost of energy in the UK.”
To which an obviously well-versed chap has responded extensively, but I do pick out these words in particular: "It is fair to say that large businesses are being motivated to take proactive steps to save energy, most financially driven and little to do with their Corporate Social Responsibly standing."
Which now brings me to a few commentary pieces, firstly one from Sophie Brodie's Business Diary: Leafy Leahy refuses 'greener than thou' row, which refers to Tesco's 10-point plan to make the world a better place. This I imagine includes the '£100m investment' that so comprehensively underwhelmed me recently, but has also stirred 'a bit of a do' with Sainsbury’s Head Honcho, and then, in short order, that of Boots.
Thing is, so far pretty much all I have heard from these CEOs in this regard is stuff about improving their energy efficiencies. Bearing in mind that comment at the start, when you read Sainsbury's energy bill rises £75m, with the comforting opening line that they '... tried to calm fears that it would be forced to pass on escalating energy costs to shoppers, after its chairman suggested the company could not absorb all of its hefty fuel bills', you start to see what's what.
And to which Tom Stephenson has referred (another dodgy link, but it is accessible by link from the base of the one above) in his Business Comment: 'Passing on higher energy costs is a non-starter when you are scrapping for market share with the likes of Tesco and Asda.'
My simple observation to all this would be to ask: 'Where are the benefits to the green consumer?'.
Of course costs and profits simply get reflected in the price we pay at the checkout. But until I see much that is tangible by way of environmental initiatives that have a direct relationship to the buying public (making the store cheaper to heat or cool is great 'n all, but so what?), I really rather wish they'd stop behaving like the pols and insulting our intelligence with all these 'smoke and reflective panels' stories. They really are only about helping their bottom lines and very little about doing their genuine bit for the environment.
Addendum: I don't always follow the path laid out by Friends of the Earth, but they are without doubt sincere and can be tremendously effective. Just after I wrote this a press release came in (rather dramatically entitled 'Fight Corporate Abuse, which at first seemed extreme for self-interested greed, but on reflection is pretty fair) from them that is pertinent and does seem to point at some relevant action.