A lot of the initiatives are ineffective by design because the real goal is to give the consumers agency over the problem. Corporations have known that individual effort is a drop in the bucket but by framing the problem as not not a “corporate” problem but a “society” problem, they can keep not fixing it, for profit.

Hypx avatar

Pretty much. Only large scale solutions will have any chance of working. A lot of it implies stuff like recycling or figure out ways of turning waste into something non-harmful. So anything you see on an individual level is pretty much guaranteed to be pointless.

theinspectorst avatar

A corporate problem and a societal problem are two sides of the same coin. Corporations don't make money in isolation, they make money because they sell things that (directly or ultimately) are bought by consumers.

You could choose to imagine a scenario where the CEOs of Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, etc just voluntarily decide to stop extracting oil overnight, and think that would be more impactful than billions of individual consumers slashing their demand for carbon-intensive products and fuels. But if the consumers don't change their behaviour and continue to demand this stuff, other companies would just step in to fill the gap, takeover the old oil fields, etc.

The sustainable way to change corporate behaviour is through changing their end-consumers' behaviour - i.e. if end-consumers stop directly buying carbon-intensive products and stop buying from carbon-intensive companies.


I think there is two important points that you haven’t considered:

  • Information asymmetry: in economics, this is the situation where one party has more/better information than the other. Of course a big corporation will have more information about a product I’m using that I would on every product I use, especially given that they can hire as many specialists as they want. Because of this, consumers should not be expected to take care of all societal change through their choices
  • You seem to imply that these companies only exist to satisfy a customer need. While this is partially true, this completely omits the fact that since 15 years, every company has a marketing department, whose sole purpose is to suscit this need in the consumer mind. Company are not just need-fulfilling machines, but also self feeding systems. You can’t talk about the fact that renewing your phone emits a lot of carbon without talking about the fact that every phone company spends millions at making you want to renew it
@demesisx@lemmy.world avatar

The MOST sustainable way to change corporate behavior is to make it prohibitively expensive for them to engage in behavior that is bad for the environment by levying major financial penalties and taxes on the offending corporations.


Corps frame it as an individualist problem because they don’t want regulation, which is really the only viable way to attack the problem (and regulations needs to be backed by treaties with teeth since it is a global problem).

You can’t expect every consumer to research every product and service they buy to make sure these products were made with an acceptable footprint. And if low-footprint products/services are more expensive or somehow not quite as good, there will be a financial incentive to use higher footprint products (if individuals acted “rationally,” this is what they would do).

theinspectorst avatar

Consumers are also voters. Corporations are not. Whether through the products we purchase at the shops or the politicians we elect at the ballot box, it will be the behaviour of individuals that creates the incentive set within which corporations profit-maximise.

Telling ourselves that this is a corporate problem and our individual behaviour doesn't matter is a comforting fairy tale but it will accomplish little.


Corporations are financial supporters of politicians, though, and they do a good job of making sure any viable political choice is on their side.

It's false choices all of the way down.


Capital has already shifted toward green energy and renewable systems. Capitalism is way ahead of any other process in terms of fighting climate change


B16_BR0TH3R, (edited )

That’s frankly idiotic, since lobbyists, corporate donors and pressure groups have far, far, far more power to affect policy than voters.

theinspectorst, (edited )
theinspectorst avatar

You're comparing the collective influence of lobbyists, donors and pressure groups with the individual influence of a single voter - no shit the former looks bigger.

The collective influence of voters in choosing (say) Trump over Clinton, or Biden over Trump, or Macron over Le Pen, or voting for Brexit, has influenced the direction of these Western democracies in recent years dramatically more than any group of lobbyists could dream of.

You're telling yourself a comforting fairytale that society is directed by some powerful secret cabals pulling the strings so you as an individual are absolved from having to do your bit with how you spend your money and how you vote. If everyone thinks like you, nothing will improve. So fucking irresponsible.

B16_BR0TH3R, (edited )

Please don’t invent strawman arguments. I haven’t compared collective influence to individual influence, and I haven’t mentioned any hidden cabal or fairytale story. Everything is out in the open and I’m happy to provide my source: www.sciencedirect.com/…/S0261379421001256


Those companies pollute to produce goods and services that individuals buy.

What does holding corporations accountable look like if not refusing to give them our money while advocating for regulation?

Throwing your hands in the air, doing nothing to change your destructive habits and just saying "but corporations" isn't gonna help anything.


I think the point is not that the individual should abandon efforts to modify their own habits. The point is that we should also be focusing just as much if not more energy on efforts to regulate and/or change industries that are responsible for more emissions by orders of magnitude. Some small but significant subset of the population going vegan, buying electric cars, or biking to work isn't going to offset the biggest offenders.

The biggest offenders are fighting tooth and nail to be as profitable as possible at literally any cost. You can be damn sure that if what they produce becomes less desirable in one industry, they will try their hardest to get picked up in some other industry. They'll have scientists finding some way to be useful somewhere and demonstrating it with research and lobbyists that will then get the government to mandate/subsidize it so that they make as much money as possible.

I've personally tried to "vote with my wallet" but industries have found ways to green-wash their products to give the impression that choosing their products would be the responsible choice when in reality it is not. Ensuring that your spending only goes to companies making an honest effort to do all they can to be carbon neutral or environmentally friendly is more than a full time job at this point. The only way is to ensure that governing bodies dictate the behavior of these organizations and even individuals so that it is no longer up to the organization/individual to "do the right thing".

Without proactive, strong government intervention we will be well, well, well beyond the point of no return by the time "voting with our wallets" and "modifying our behaviors" changes industries and society enough to have a significant impact.



Claiming that oil companies are to blame for producing all that oil seems stupid. If you use less oil, they make less oil

667 avatar

It’s borderline impossible to use less oil in increasingly car-centric infrastructure systems.

Balssh avatar

Maybe in US, but in Europe the trend is towards more public transportation.


The amount of profit and money in the oil industry will ensure that it's product remains relevant for as long as possible. If it's not through gasoline, it will be something else.

Meanwhile they'll be doing their best to sabotage and lobby against any competition to make it harder for individuals to even have the opportunity to do the right thing. The change has to come from the top (government mandates) in order for it to have any meaningful impact any time soon.


Both are true. The oil companies will lobby to maintain their position, yes. But you’ll also make the choice to drive places when maybe you could cycle


People boycotting certain products only really works if an alternative is available and attainable, or the demand is elastic.

For example, if I go to any grocery store, all the pasta, rice, buckwheat, bread and other staples are packaged into single-use plastic, as are hygiene products like toothpaste and shampoo. I have no choice but to be part of the plastic waste problem since there is no alternative and the demand for food is not elastic—I literally can't go without food and basic hygiene.

But I can and will avoid buying problematic products like teflon cookware, fast fashion, ICE vehicles, tech products with severe privacy/ownership/repairability issues since there are alternatives available and if not, I can go without since eg Alexa smart speakers are not essential for life.

Hence, we need to hold companies, whose products are problematic while not having alternatives and that are essential for life, responsible and force them to change to less problematic practices. In short, eg single-use plastics should be regulated out of existence wherever possible.

And for products that have better alternatives, we need to raise awareness about them and raise their social acceptance/desirability (make them cool). Plus we need to increase their availability and attainability—what use of is an ethical alternative product if it's not easily available in my country or if the price is not affordable to everyone who can afford the "normal" version?


That's not really what OP is saying though? They're talking about corporate efforts to make it seems like the consumers are the problem, not them, and many are still falling for it. As long as the awareness of this is not raised and more people aren't pointing fingers at the corporates the whole don't buy their product is never going to be effective, same for advocating for regulations (rather, especially the regulations). You're assuming everyone knows the root of the problem already, but that's just not the case here.

e-ratic avatar

This is a frustrating kind of defeatist attitiude I'm finding is getting more and more common.

It comes from a place of unwillingness for personal and habitual change. It's hard to accept that we all have to change our lifestyles and accept that how we're living is going to have to change. That there is exists some scenario whereby we all continue living exactly how we're doing now with the same consumer behaviour and expect a bit of regulations to change everything. Or delay changing until after these regulations are in place, when in reality BOTH needs to happen.

What's the point in sitting on your ass complaining about the behaviours of other individuals and organisations when the only thing you have direct control over is your life.

@RecursiveParadox@lemmy.world avatar

What’s the point in sitting on your ass complaining about the behaviours of other individuals and organisations when the only thing you have direct control over is your life.

I’m not challenging you on the “sitting on your ass” part because that is true. But I promise you the Earth getting hotter and more polluted is going to exert “direct control …over your life.” And the only real way we can change this is through some kind of political process.

e-ratic, (edited )
e-ratic avatar

Where did I say it shouldn't be a political process? It isn't an either-or. How many people online who are saying "oh why should I consume less when corporations emit the most CO2, there's no point I'm not going to bother" is politically active outside of voting? As in, physically - attend climate rallies or petition their local representative. I'd wager it's a slim minority. Signing an online petition or tweeting does not count.

If people honestly cared so much that they're doing these things anyway, then changing themselves and their consumption habits should be dead easy. So why don't more people do it?

My point is this isn't an excuse to not take any actions locally within your life, which is something you can do RIGHT NOW.


I assume that folks are just looking for a way to keep their comfort zone the same. Finding an excuse is simple, even without blatant logic errors.

e-ratic, (edited )
e-ratic avatar

It is textbook cognitive dissonance.


BP created the concept of a carbon footprint to make customers feel responsible for climate change. The reality is that consumer choices make no difference in the face of China building a dozen new giant coal power plants each year. This needs to be tackled diplomatically, and nations need to be willing to negotiate with much more force. China emits more than double the CO2 of the U.S. That’s just CO2. There’s PFAS, methane, plastics, and hundreds of others pollutants. They’re destroying whole oceans with their huge bottom-trawling fishing fleets. It’s time we get serious about tackling the major polluters first.

NotAPenguin, (edited )

Yes, go vegan and stop driving if you actually want to change your impact.



And if not vegan then at least not beef

Beef is 10x more carbon intensive than pork


Yet pigs are way more intelligent than cows and are usually kept in even worse conditions. So be aware that you sacrifice the little wellbeing of some animals for that.


Agreed, but I’m talking within the context of climate change


I get that and it may be that someone decides that this is a worthy trade-off. I'm not gonna judge, we all have to do moral loopedy loops all the time to exist in the world we exist in, just wanted to point out that there is a loopedy loop to be found in this ;)


Going fully vegan isn't hard tho :)


Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. Most people simply arent going to go vegan, and many need to take baby steps toward it. Cutting out beef is a great first step.


But let's also not make it seem more difficult than it is, it's very easy to avoid animal products.

Shouting "BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALL THE WAY" every time veganism is brought up is a bit silly.


Or drive electric, and minimise your meat consumption - this is much more feasible.

I don’t drive and live in one of the cities with the best public transportation in the world, but am still looking to get a car because public transport is still terrible. E.g. if you need to pick up or return something, or to take one of my friends to work who works outside the city and at night.

A car is required to live freely, otherwise you’re just trapped in cities.


What we need is easily accessible rental cars for when we really need them. Private cars and jets should never have been a thing…


Much better is to eliminate the need for a car. Good public transport would make a massive difference.

If you had 100% rentals, the amount of cars on the road stays the same because everyone needs the at the same rush hours.

We should be incentivizing work from home. E.g. require an extra 1 hour of pay per for any employee that needs to be on site. We’d soon see how essential offices are.


Maybe with self-driving cars it’ll be more doable as the cars can drive themselves to-and-from their hubs and charging point, etc.

But we’re still a while away from that being widely achievable.

In Europe the roads and parking are nightmare in most places, so I’m not really a huge fan of it, but it’s really the only option for freedom for the foreseeable future.

Sadly the likeliest outcome will just be governments continuing to make it more and more expensive to get a licence, own and insure a car, drive in cities or on motorways, etc. until it becomes the reserve of the wealthy again, just like they’re steadily doing with air fares too (increasing air fuel duty whilst exempting private jets). So the rich can drive their SUVs and private jets whilst the working class are trapped in overcrowded cities, in their tiny pod apartments eating bugs all in the name of the environment.

JasSmith, (edited )

The average British person emits 76 times more CO2 than the offset of one person going vegan for life. Even if everyone on the planet went vegan today, forever, their sacrifice would be undone by the number of new babies born in a single year, globally. Veganism isn’t going to solve climate change. It’s not even going to make a dent. We should be focusing on practical, real measures to reduce global CO2 output. For example, the move from coal to LNG halves CO2 output. This transition alone is an order of magnitude more impactful than the entire world going vegan for life. If you care about climate change you’ll invest your limited time and energy where it counts.

NotAPenguin, (edited )

You can easily be vegan while advocating for other change like less coal.

If the world adopted a plant-based diet we would reduce global agricultural land use from 4 to 1 billion hectares


You can easily be vegan while advocating for other change like less coal.

Sorry, but major lifestyle changes are not "easy." It's "easy" to lose weight, and yet two thirds of Americans can't do it. I like eating meat but would be willing to give it up if the juice were worth the squeeze. It's not. Instead of spending your time telling people to make major lifestyle changes with almost zero impact to the climate, why aren't you focusing on real, sustainable solutions?

FYI the top four metrics in the image you linked are for agriculture, not meat production alone. Agriculture includes the production of plants, fruits, and grains. It's all food production.


It really isn't hard, buying the plant based products instead of the animal ones is easy.


I find it very difficult. It appears that what you find easy and what others find easy are not the same.


What's hard about choosing the plant based option in the grocery store or restaurant?
It's literally just buying a different product.


I like meat a lot. Not eating meat will significantly degrade my standard of living.


You'd be surprised how many vegans said that exact same thing.. and then went vegan.

I used to eat meat too and know it's tasty but you're probably not as addicted to it as you think.

Plant based food can be just as tasty and knowing your food isn't harming animals or the planet is great.

Are your tastebuds really more important than the lives of other animals and the health of our planet?


I appreciate the affirmations but I've spent enough years on this planet, and attempted various diets enough times, to know what I like and do not like. I like meat. Many people like meat.

My tastebuds are definitely more important than the almost zero impact I have explained such a diet has on the planet. You slipped up a bit there and fell into ethical concerns. Remember, this is a discussion about the impact meat has on the environment. Or is your argument not in fact about the environment at all?


How is reducing farmland from 4 to 1 billion hectares zero impact?

Animal agriculture is incredible inefficient and wasteful.


How is reducing farmland from 4 to 1 billion hectares zero impact?

In the context of our discussion, it has minimal impact on climate change. The scope of harm is really limited to deforestation, but this has minimal impact on CO2 emissions as a proportion of all other output.


The embarrassing thing will be that we did nothing to limit private jets.

If everyone but world leaders had to fly with us poor’s, wed be doing a hell of a lot better than we are.

We never address the easy, large targets because those targets are rich people and they pay for it to not be addressed.

It’s embarrassing that we have an Internet and are unable to come together to fight such a small group of people.


Private jets are a negligible amount of emissions. ALL air travel makes up just 2% of emissions.

@RecursiveParadox@lemmy.world avatar

This is one of the reasons Elon is destroying the bird - to ruin our internet and its ability to aid collective action.

@AnUnusualRelic@lemmy.world avatar

Honestly, if that was the only embarrassing thing, we’d be golden.


air travel is negligible.

the real killer is the animal industry and traffic.

and quitting animal consumption is a lot easier than not driving.

derelict, (edited )
@derelict@lemmy.world avatar

I think your final statement is backwards. The world was car-free not very long ago in the grand scheme of things. We’ve never been fully vegan. I agree we should eat fewer animal products as well as driving less, but just because it was easier for you doesn’t mean it’ll be easier for society at large.


If a large percentage of people can’t even utilize resuable bags for their groceries we’re already screwed. So much apathy and people not really committed to take even the smallest of steps to help our environment.

@lntl@lemmy.sdf.org avatar

I’d say that blaming individuals for fundamental architecture of our society is the essence of the problem we have.


Fundamental architecture? Being adverse to making environmentally conscious decisions is a choice. When other solutions are available fundamental architecture sounds more like a cop out to me.

@lntl@lemmy.sdf.org avatar

By fundamental architecture, I mean things like suburban development. Suburban development enforces commuting by personal motor vehicle which is far less efficient, from a pollution perspective, than public transit like intra-city rail. Another example could be planned obsolesence. This is part of the fundamental architecture which imposes a cycle of pollution into the replacement of consumer goods. These aren’t individuals’ choices, they’re the fabric of western society.

It’s systemic.


There won’t be a “we” to look back on them, so I wouldn’t worry about it.


Sure but have you tried goin grink?

@beefbaby182@lemmy.world avatar

Play nice in this thread. It’s a touchy subject.

Rule 1


It’ll be looked back on in the same way we today look back on the fact that doctors used to prescribe cigarettes, meth and heroin to people. People trying to do good being manipulated by those with all the power and influence.


I’ve learned that we’re doing an even poor job of handling recyclables, the very thing we’re beaten over the head with to be responsible about.


By oil companies. They pushed the plastic recycling narrative before it was even feasible to recycle it, all to sell more oil for plastics.

You know that recycling logo with the three arrows? It doesn’t even mean that the plastic is recyclable; it simply states what type of plastic the material is made out of.

NPR did a recent investigation in this matter, and less than 5% of recycled plastic, given to your local recycling plant, actually gets recycled.

Not to mention that we didn’t even know if our recycling was even recycled. We used to ship it to countries in Asia, burning bunker oil all the way there, and whatever happened to it happened. Out of sight, out of mind, and likely not recycled.

The best thing you can do is not buy disposable plastics. Even other materials that are very recyclable, like aluminum and glass, still needs to be shipped, processed, melted down, and remanufactured to be useful. It’s better for the environment, but not anywhere close to net zero.


Not to mention that we didn’t even know if our recycling was even recycled. We used to ship it to countries in Asia, burning bunker oil all the way there, and whatever happened to it happened. Out of sight, out of mind, and likely not recycled.

No need to use the past tense, this is still the case in most cases.


Anything that’s safe to advocate for in a public forum is inadequate.


The vast majority of these initiatives are just pointless “greenwashing”.

@MargotRobbie@lemmy.world avatar

Do not let perfection get in the way of progress.


If Captain Planet was real, he would be extremely disappointed with all of us.


Planetina from Rick and Morty would just straight up murder the biggest offenders.

@beefbaby182@lemmy.world avatar

On a note, what the heck was up with “heart”? You got these 4 badass elemental powers coming together to form this awesome super hero and then just…heart? Never sat right with me when I was a kid.


Only to realise it's the most busted ability of the bunch when you grow up.

Mind control beats everyone

@AnUnusualRelic@lemmy.world avatar

Speak for yourself, I’m peeing in the shower.

Yes, we’re basically doing nothing. Then we’ll run around like headless chicken when things will start to get really bad. And when the mass deaths will start, well, we’ll start acting, by killing each other.


I’m guessing it starts with the supply chain.

It will be like COVID all over again. Got toilet paper?

Except it will not get better after a few years.


I expect first world famine to reappear within the next 2-3 years ngl.


That’s pretty aggressive. I would say 20 years. But we will adapt, as we have always done.


I wish I could share your optimism, I think when it does happen people will be running around saying “holy shit this wasnt supposed to happen for at least another decade!”


Oh I wouldn’t call it optimism. It will be extremely unpleasant (to put it mildly) and probably 99% of human population will die. But the survivors will adapt.


Some are already being questioned as inadequate. Carbon offsets often times don’t offset much carbon at all. Some of that is on purpose and are just people trying to make a quick buck, but some are actual humanitarian efforts that didn’t take into account all factors and end up being much less effective than initially thought.


John Oliver has a segment on carbon offsets and, yeah, they sound like typical cash grabs under the guise of “green” Vid: youtu.be/6p8zAbFKpW0

@RecursiveParadox@lemmy.world avatar

Use them in my industry, or rather are starting to, and this is apparent.

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