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Everything is not awesome with greenwashed hypocrisy

Over the last few days, a heart-tuggingly earnest video surfaced on the web, courtesy of Greenpeace, encouraging parents to pressure LEGO to stop putting Shell advertising on its bricks and kits because it supposedly warped the minds of children.

According to the video, kids are being used as pawns in a campaign of propaganda “by an unethical corporation who are busy destroying the natural world our children will inherit”.

In the video, a LEGO oil rig is depicted spilling oil into the LEGO ocean, killing the LEGO children and little LEGO polar bears. Looking over it all is a flagpole flying the Shell logo, the very same piece of LEGO that we all know and love.

Then a message reads across the screen: “Shell is polluting our kids’ imaginations”.

Not “LEGO is killing the environment”.

Not “stop buying toys that harm the environment and prop up the corporate interests of oil companies, passively accepting their continued raping and pillaging of the Earth, pumping carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to rising tides, changing climates and the melting of the very ice caps this video claims to give a shit about.”

Just “stop polluting the imaginations of our wee ones because won’t somebody think of the children”.

Not to point out the bleeding obvious, but this ad is bullshit.

1. This ad is bullshit because LEGO is made of petroleum

What the hell do parents think LEGO is made of? Dreams and unicorn tears? Oh yes, that’s right, petroleum. The very stuff bought and sold by companies like Shell, and the very stuff companies like LEGO would have an interest in keeping cheap.

LEGO polar bear in oil

That poor piece of petroleum, drowning in itself. (via Greenpeace, Youtube)

2. This ad is bullshit because Greenpeace doesn’t care about the polar ice caps

Do you know how much carbon is pumped into the atmosphere for every LEGO block that is produced? Or how long it takes for a single LEGO block to break down? Neither do I.

There is something deeply upsetting about this campaign, because for all the terrible floods, oil-spills, death and despair depicted in the video, the fact is it’s all over a flag. A flag. It’s the flag that has to go.

There’s no discussion of how much damage you are doing to the environment every time you buy a new LEGO set for Christmas – or a Barbie, or any number of products lining the shelves of Toys R Us for that matter.

Clearly somebody at Greenpeace thought shaming parents out of buying LEGO was too much to ask. Instead, a more effective way to get at those pesky oil companies was boycotting LEGO in an attempt to remove Shell advertising from its blocks.

Way to aim high, Greenpeace.

LEGO Shell oil tanker

Corporate propaganda! Won’t somebody think of the children?! (via Greenpeace, Youtube)

3. This ad is bullshit because it’s had almost 1 million views by clicktivists

The video has been online for a day and it has been viewed more than 1 million times, has over 13,000 likes, and more than 3000 comments.

Doesn’t that speak volumes?

When it comes to protecting our children and our environment, actions speak louder than words.

If people were at all concerned with their children’s future they’d simply live differently.

LEGO Jon Snow, Ygrit and Ghost in oil

You know nothing, Jon Snow! (via Greenpeace, Youtube)

4. This ad is bullshit because you’ll share this video and buy LEGO anyway

This ad is the worst kind of link-baity, first-world clicktivism, feel-good stuff which tugs at the heart strings without actually accomplishing anything.

People will share it around and sign their petitions and everyone can feel good that they’ve done their bit to end the influence of evil corporations like Shell – do you know what oil companies do to the environment?

But if you share this video and continue to buy LEGO you are a hypocrite of the worst kind.

What difference does a Shell flag make in your child’s life when their parents would rather share a YouTube video on Facebook than actually reflect on how much stuff in their physical lives is the product of child or slave labor, or is bad for the environment, or was sold to them by the very corporations they claim to oppose and post vehemently about online.

But really we’re not concerned with LEGO. LEGO is awesome. And we don’t care about climate change, the rising tides or the polar ice caps. If we were, we’d demand more from our governments and from all corporations, and we’d invest in renewable energies. It may be expensive, sure. But it would be worth it.

If it were that important to you, there are definitely ways to live clean and green.

But most people won’t. Because most people don’t care. We claim to care. But not enough to make any kind of significant lifestyle change.

About the author

Claire Porter is an award-winning journalist. Previously the tech editor of news.com.au, Claire has had her work published in some of Australia’s biggest websites and newspapers.

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Comments (1)

    Rob Cook

    Sunday 20 November 2016

    When you make Lego or any plastic product, the carbon stays in the product, it doesn’t go straight into the atmosphere like exhaust fumes or onto the roads like bitumen etc. Sure there is a lot of plastic pollution, but that’s a lifecycle responsibility that no one wants to own up to. Some of the Lego set that my kids play with is 40 years old (as it used to be mine), that’s carbon that has been trapped in a piece of Lego for 40 years instead of being burnt in a car engine and creating greenhouse gases. UV light breaks down plastic. Keep it out of UV light and the plastic seems to last for ever (at least 40 years). The point that could of been made is that there is enough plastic on this planet to recycle without the need to extract any more petroleum products. But as pointed out above, new plastic is cheaper to make than recycling old plastic. Companies don’t think about the good of the planet, they are run by accountants (CEO’s will deny this) and they see only profits or losses. Lego should not be using brands in of their movies, any brand, even Tesla. But in the end, Lego is run by accountants too, so if using brands pays for a movie that is basically a 90 minute advertisement for it’s own product, then that’s what they’ll do.