Greenwashing, Virtue Signaling, & BS Certifications
If the first two plus decades of the 21st Century could be summed up in just seven or eight words, they would be:
We are all witnessing the madness, because if you add all those words together and combine them into one, it would be the word MADNESS. Forces of evil, ignorance, and subterfuge (usually motivated by political ideologies and profiteering) have brewed and fermented for decades to result in the insane and extremely dangerous world of unrivaled ignorance that we are witnessing today. The political theater is only one aspect of it, for there are threads of this perversion of reality running through every aspect of our lives from the socio-economic to the family, from philosophy to science, and from medicine to industry. The trickle-down effect of these tidal forces affects each and every one of us including our perception of reality and truth, including what is good and virtuous to what is bad and despicable.
Our concern in this blogpost is of course centered around industry, and particularly that part of industry that seeks to determine values and virtue. The embodiment of those things has taken the form of sustainability, environmentalism, safety, and certifications. Unfortunately, as much as most companies want to emulate those supposed virtues, they cannot as their business models are often legacy, their production lines, formulations, and available resources prevent them from honestly doing so. Hence, many companies simply fake it, virtue signal, and deceive the public. The finish coatings industry is no exception, in fact it is more likely the ultimate example of this travesty, apart from the pharmaceutical industry. The reason is manifold, but the underlying and most important aspect of it is that these industries were largely off-springs of the chemical and fuel production industries
Derivatives and waste by-products, many of them toxic, had to be disposed of
one way or another.
Innovation in industry coupled with maximizing profits demands that waste and by-products be appropriated towards new products that can be sold for a profit. If we really take a hard and honest look at that concept, we will see clearly that there is far less virtue and much more insidiousness in total utilization; with the exception of the food products industry where one could say honoring the sacrificed animal or plant with complete use is in fact virtuous and the right thing to do. So, getting back to the finish products industry - considering that toxic waste products are the key ingredients, coupled with some innovations in plasticization, how does one then “put lipstick on that pig”? Enter the green certification industry…
To be honest, the industry of certifications is a mixed bag, with most of the “green”, “sustainable”, “safe” and “zero VOC”, and other such certifications being mostly not much more than bought and paid for virtue signaling and deception. On the other hand, there are production quality control and quality assurance certifications that delineate proper production line procedures, quality checks and the like that are both sincere and valuable, ISO, UL, and GMP being three of them. However, these and similar certifications say less about the overall value or user safety of a product than the quality assurance of eliminating contamination and assuring consistency of goods in production. Keep in mind, this is all based on the stated product formulations and quality standards of the producer. Those standards are subjective to each company employing such certifications in accordance with their objectives and model of the finished goods. So, what I am saying is that you can have ISO and GMP in a PCB, DDT, bio-weapons, or nerve-gas factory. The certification says nothing about the suitability for use nor the actual safety of the product, but only its consistency of production standards across each production run.
Okay then, let’s go back to the kind of certification that fits into our 21st Century Clown World and look at some examples of certifications that fit into the list of highly questionable motives and sometimes even for funding other hidden agendas. This includes:
- for-profit schemes by the founders and managers of said certifying bodies;
- simple pay-the-toll virtue signaling so one’s product can wear a badge of false virtue; and industry giants trying to eliminate potential up and coming competitors.
This is achieved by making costly certification essentially mandatory whether imposed by government or by large customers.
The cost of successful entry into the field can then be too expensive for smaller competitors, inventors, and entrepreneurs.
Often the creators of these certification schemes get government to go along with their game through incentives, various forms of payoff, political contributions, and legal pressure. We the people in turn get the ultimate expression of government and industry joining together to suppress or subjugate competition, the very definition of fascism i.e., a partnership of industry and government and protectionism benefiting the favored (read paying) few.
I am sure that I am overlooking some additional lesser motivations for the creation of these certifying bodies. I would venture to say with confidence that very-very few of them are truly altruistic.
So, let’s take a look at some examples of certifications that are at best questionable, and if you read the articles, you will find that this is a subject of much debate, and more complex than it appears on the surface. From my perspective, many certification schemes (some originally altruistic in concept) are in actual practice most often misguided and fall far short of achieving the stated goals. They instead serve, whether intentionally or coincidentally, nefarious goals of key industry players and politicians, lining pockets and protecting big business instead of consumers or the planet’s natural environment and its various inhabitants.:
The bottom line is Dolphin Safe sounds good, and the concept is good; but the documentary Seaspiracy clearly showed in an interview with the certifier (Earth Island Institute) those carrying the badge on their products simply paid them a fee for the rights to the Dolphin Safe badge and then “self-regulated”. At the time of the filming of Seaspiracy, it seems there were no such on-board Dolphin Safe observers or even fishing trip records being kept by the certifying institute. It is in fact true that certain methods of fishing cause more harm to Dolphins than others, but does the label really guarantee what its wording suggests? It makes us pause and think what is the real motive of that program, is it all a money-making scheme for the certifier, or is there something else behind it? We make no claim as to the validity or invalidity of the film’s suggestions on this or any other subject.
MSC (MARINE STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL)
This group was also “ambushed” in the style of investigative journalism and criticized in the film Seaspiracy. Similar criticisms can be found lodged in the above weblink. The issues at hand at are noteworthy and complex. The MSC Certification requirements include first and foremost a significant and hefty fee be paid to the certifier by fishing companies, and furthermore even those subsequent purchasers, cold storage, and receivers of finished product that was caught and packed under MSC Certification must pay fees to the Council in order for the product to be considered MSC certified. That fact alone makes it look more like it’s about money making and protectionism for the seafood industry companies backing the scheme than anything related to environmental protection and fishery stocks management. The question remains what is the actual value of such certification in environmental protection realm versus the reality of its guarantee? Buyer beware! I would venture to say there is no guarantee, but what is guaranteed is that those carrying this costly-in-dollars badge gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. So, we really have to question it. The problem remains as in just about all industries, the public is unaware of the facts behind such schemes or programs and is then duped into believing values and virtues exist, are guaranteed to exist by some “authority”, when in fact these virtues may not exist at all or perhaps at half measure at best.
Would you want your child chewing on something coated with a finish laced with isocyanate hardeners and dryers which are known carcinogens?
And what about the solvents like naphtha and mineral spirits? Are these toxin and carcinogens, now in the year 2022, to be considered a tasty treat for toddlers and children?
This one gets most people confused. Spaghetti sauce, garlic, onions, flowers, perfumes, and many other benign substances contain VOC’s. So what does no-VOC’s really imply, that all VOC’s are bad? Not all VOC’s are bad, only those that contain Benzenes and other toxic substances. So really, no-VOC on the label of a product that contains benzene, toluene, naphtha, mineral spirits, and other nasty chemicals is simply a form of deception because industry convinced government that there were acceptable levels of these substances that could be emanated from their products without causing immediate harm. However, no amount of benzene is safe, and it can be debated that no amount of the other aforementioned chemicals are safe to breathe, and it is postulated that exposure can manifest in ill health decades after actual exposure. So what then is the true value of such labels? We can only deduce it is for marketing purposes, to disarm consumers, and at best to indicate that the contents of these toxins are less than otherwise could be.
Yet again, when we look at the websites and labels of these finish brands and apply our discernment, the deception is evident, from the cloaking of ingredients with code numbers (an apparent loophole in the law) on SDS sheets, to the placement of certification badges on their products. We can be assured that far too often - certifying bodies and industry devised badges are more often used as convenient tools of deception for profits.
Why is it that in the 21st Century common sense has been thrown out the window? Why are consumers so ready and willing to defer their decision making about their own health and exposure risks to so called experts in industry and media who clearly have vested interests in serving those masters that line their pockets, advance their careers, pay their salaries, and advertise on their platforms?
So, the take-away of this blog is simple, buyer beware, use your own common sense and don’t trust the so-called experts because they are in it for the money first and foremost.
Take certification badges with a grain of salt and know that they are first and foremost sales and marketing tools.
We ask you to think through your decisions, look closely at the facts of the matter whether it’s finish coatings, surface conditioners, food products, or anything else. What is behind the facade, the benign label? If we have learned anything in the 21st Century, it is don’t simply trust big industry, government, or big media - look closer, for there very often exists ulterior motives that are not in your best interests. Don’t simply let them “stick you in the kazoo”!
As a postscript, I would like to add that I recognize the reader must then ask himself, how do I know whether Odie’s Oil finishes are as safe as they say. Well, we have disclosed our main ingredient, pure unadulterated Tung Oil and it has a centuries long track record of both safety and efficacy. And I can tell you that all of the other ingredients in our finishes are 100% food grade; in fact, the quality we purchase of each of these ingredients is also USP meaning that’s it’s the purest of pure. As you know, you can go into your own kitchen and mix any food ingredients that you have into a recipe without worrying about creating a toxic poison. The very same holds true for the Odie’s Oil factory, our ingredients can be combined without creating a toxic product because they are only food grade, food use ingredients and nothing else. We don’t have any chemicals in our factory except food grade therapeutic essential oils.