August 08, 2008

Is Silk Soy Milk's "Green Cap" an Oxymoron?

Instead of missing children, Silk brand soy milk containers feature their own "green caps." These plastic caps, including the one pictured here, are used to pour the soy milk from the side. Silk's caps are green colored. The graphic next to the cap contains two windmills, and the message "Green Caps for Green Energy." The side of the container reads, "for years we've offset the electricity used to make Silk with clean wind energy."

Is this all bullshit?


1. Why do Silk's containers need plastic caps? Aren't such containers designed to fold out and pour from the ends at the top, with no extra parts? Plastic caps take energy to produce. And they're made from oil. How could it be considered "green" to produce these extra parts?

2. What does Silk do to "support" "green energy?" It's all pretty sketchy on Silk's website. The most specific information I could find are two boxes on Silk's website. One box is entitled "What Are Green Tags?" It states, "green tags are renewable energy certificates that offset polluting energy sources." However, there is no explanation of Silk's connection, if any, with such "green tags." The second box is entitled "Wind Farms We Support," and contains a map of the United States with five windmills pictured. When you scroll over each windmill, its name and location is listed. But again, Silk offers no explanation of how it "supports" such wind farms.

3. Even if Silk "offsets" the production of its "green caps" or other materials by "supporting" wind farms financially or otherwise, isn't Silk using excess energy and creating unneeded pollution by producing its caps in the first place?

Perhaps Silk can offer a better explanation about its "green caps." Until then, Silk's caps, and its accompanying "green energy" messages, remind me of the photo I saw recently of a huge Humvee with a "Coexist" bumper sticker on the back. And it reminds us that we need to scrutinize closely any company's claim to be "green."

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At 4:52 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Hmm... Reminds me of the Locally Known arugula I just bought. Most people don't think beyond the green cap and that's what they are counting on.

I don't buy soy milk, preferring instead to buy lactose-free milk to deal with my husband's milk problem. I even use it to make homemade yogurt since there is no lactose-free yogurt on the market (that I have found).

So as far as I'm concerned they can keep their green caps!

At 2:58 PM, Blogger *MP* said...

I'm so deep in the faux milk products that I skip the soy and go straight for the almond milk. Much tastier. I see what you're saying about the overuse of plastic though, but that pouring device makes the container much more sanitary and the milk therefore lasts longer. When you use the fold out thing, it doesn't always stay so fresh. I wonder if we factored in wasted milk (and the wasted materials, processing, shipping, etc.) if it isn't worth it (in terms of net environmental impact) to have the plastic cap. No idea, but it might make a difference.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

MP - Yikes, if that's true, it's yet another item that Silk fails to explain. They could use some help with this whole green campaign of theirs.

At 6:33 AM, Blogger *MP* said...

I agree that this campaign can look a little wimpy and greenwashy --and it probably is to a degree, but I think that when large corporations take steps toward a more sustainable business model, we all profit. Even if it's not perfect. Yes, we need to question. Yes, we need to be involved and careful about our purchases. But shunning or criticizing a company for having a policy that's too light weight might be counter productive. Not everyone is going to be "deep green" and have composting toilets and solar panels -- not yet. Making sustainable choices fashionable, easy, and attainable to the masses is the first step and that's what campaigns like this do.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Only if they are legitimate, which is my point. If the company fails to explain details of its campaign, especially on its website where it has scads of space to do so, to the point where a cheerleader like me has to question whether what they're doing is legitimate and accurately portrayed, then they have really missed the boat and need some serious pr/communications help. Surely the choice isn't between no green campaign at all and a green campaign so poorly communicated that the underlying efforts, if any, are not plain on their face to the average consumer.


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