London Greenpeace, fresh from its successful mammoth 'McLibel' battle with
the McDonald's Corporation, has just produced a thoroughly researched
leaflet about 'green' consumerism focusing on the Body Shop because of its
ethical claims. The leaflet (for distribution worldwide) is being mailed
out this week to all London Greenpeace contacts around the world, and is
entitled "What's Wrong With The Body Shop? - a criticism of 'green'
consumerism". It is intended as an educational leaflet (rather than boycott
leaflet), showing that consumerism ('green' or otherwise) has a detrimental
effect on the environment, society, and the world's poor. Nobody can make
the world a better place by shopping and in fact the world's problems will
only be tackled by curbing consumerism - one of the fundamental causes of
world poverty, environmental destruction and social alienation.
The Body Shop have put themselves on a pedestal in order to exploit people's idealism and therefore the leaflet has been produced as a necessary response. Contrary to their image and reputation, the Body Shop (like all big cosmetic companies) make wide use of petrochemicals, synthetic colours, fragrances and preservatives, and use only tiny amounts of botanical-based ingredients. The Body Shop pay their workers low wages and are opposed to trade unions, ensuring that they keep labour costs down and that employees are not able to organise to improve their working conditions. Also, the Body Shop exploit indigenous people they claim to be helping through so-called 'Trade Not Aid' or 'Community Trade' projects. As the Body Shop rely so heavily on their 'green', 'caring' image, they have threatened or brought legal action against some of those who have criticised them, trying to stifle legitimate public discussion.
As well as being a criticism of 'green' consumerism, the leaflet is highly critical of the cosmetics industry (of which the Body Shop is a part), creating a demand for products where a real need for them does not exist.
London Greenpeace's point of view, as stated in the leaflet, is: "Let's consume less, and live more. Fightback against the institutions and people in power who dominate our lives and our planet. Join in the struggle for a better world."
To launch the leaflet, there will be a picket of the Body Shop store at 374 Oxford Street, London W1 (opposite Bond St tube) on Saturday 21st March from Noon to 2pm. Dave Morris, one of the McLibel Defendants, will hand out the first leaflet to the public at the picket.
The leaflet contains a subverted Body Shop logo - the petals have turned into claws and coins are falling through and accumulating at the bottom! A referenced version of the leaflet is available, meticulously detailing the sources and facts behind the criticisms.
This is the latest in a series of leaflets produced by London Greenpeace focusing on multinational companies, for example McDonald's, Unilever and Shell. We want to show that, at the end of the day, all multinationals have the same characteristics and negative impact on society and the environment.
LONDON GREENPEACE'S PUBLIC VICTORY OVER CENSORSHIPWe have recently emerged victorious from a huge legal and public battle with the McDonald's Corporation in which the company failed to stop the global dissemination of millions of the street version of our "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflet. Three million of these leaflets have now been handed out in the UK alone since the libel action was initiated in an attempt to silence us. The leaflet has been translated into at least 26 languages so far. Protests and campaigns against McDonald's continue and are growing in strength in many countries around the world. "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets have become probably the most famous and widely distributed protest leaflets in history.
Mr Justice Bell delivered his verdict in the 'McLibel' Trial on 19th June 1997. He found as a fact that McDonald's "exploit children" through their advertising, that they are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals, and that the company is anti-Union and pays such low wages that it helps to depress the already low wages in the catering industry even further. The Judge also found that McDonald's deceive the public when they promote their high-fat high-salt low-fibre food as nutritious, and that they are risking the health of their long-term regular customers.
The McLibel Defendants (Helen Steel & Dave Morris) are appealing in the British courts against the parts of the Judge's verdict which went against them and over some of the disturbing legal aspects of the case - the Court of Appeal hearing is scheduled for December 1998. Helen & Dave are appealing to protect the public's right to freedom of speech. They intend to take the British government to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the UK's unfair and oppressive libel laws - challenging the denial of Legal Aid and the right to a jury trial, and laws stacked in favour of Plaintiffs. They will argue that multinational corporations should no longer be allowed to sue for libel.
The "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflet highlighted the effects of the fast food industry. In the same way, the criticisms in the Body Shop leaflet apply to the cosmetics industry as a whole and to all those multinationals that make ethical claims.
A referenced version of the "What's Wrong With The Body Shop?" leaflet, validating all the facts and opinions in the leaflet, is available on request.
London Greenpeace was the first Greenpeace group in Europe, founded in 1971, and has always been separate from Greenpeace International (founded in 1977). We are an open anarchist, ecological group which has always supported a wide range of radical, social and environmental issues, networking with other activists and initiatives.