It’s easy to point the finger at Mr. Hayward from BP right now.  Recent callous comments from Mr. Hayward (“I want my life back”) are almost darkly funny coming from an exec who’s likely sweating out the oil crisis in a 5 star hotel and crisscrossing the world via an executive jet when he needs a moment with the family.

Surely Mr. Hayward’s PR team is not happy with the bumbling BP exec.  BP seems to continuously downplay the accident and make slick new ads promising to fix things while they underspend on the clean up effort (though the recent $20 Billion spill fund effort is a step in the right direction).

But really, Mr. Hayward is no different from most of us.  We tend to rarely think beyond ourselves…even in situations where we should so obviously be concerned about those who are suffering the most.

And, although we were not directly responsible for the current crisis, we can shoulder some of the blame.  We’re the one’s investing in mutual funds replete with oil companies and driving gas guzzling SUVs.   We’re the one’s creating all the global demand for oil.  BP makes an incredible amount of money off of us.  Heck, last year alone, BP posted $17 billion in profit.  For perspective, $17 billion was almost double the profit of Apple ($5.7 billion) and Google ($6.5 billion) combined.  In the past three years, the company has generated a staggering $91 billion in cash flow from operations.  I was a loyal contributor to that enormous number.  I often purposefully drove into BP gas stations vs other competitors…I was a believer.

BP was supposed to be the “Green” oil company, right?  Maybe Greenpeace had it right all along.  In 2008, Greenpeace sensed something was amiss with BP’s trustworthiness and awarded them the 2008 Emerald paintbrush Greenwash award.

But Are Consumers Like Us the Real Greenwashers?

Joel Makower just posted an interesting article entitled “Who’s the Biggest Greenwasher of All?” In the article, Makower also takes consumers like us to task saying:

How many (consumers) can say that they are making substantive changes in their daily lives? How many are doing more this year than last? How many have set bold goals about their environmental progress — two, five, or ten years from now?

Compare this to the latest consumer research findings. “Eight in 10 consumers are interested in some type of green product,” according to the latest LOHAS Consumer Trends Database from the Natural Marketing Institute…so, who’s fooling who? Are companies nefariously saying one thing and doing another, or is it consumers who are masquerading as eco-heroes while making only symbolic changes?

In the end, Makower has a point.  If we all want change like we say we do, then we need to start exercising our collective power & start leaving our old fund portfolios, products + marketing/PR plots behind.  We don’t have to live on the extractive stuff of the past; we can help develop the regenerative stuff of the future by driving change ourselves…1 purchase choice at a time.

Maybe things will turn around for BP after this crisis?  And, hopefully Mr. Hayward, like all of us, internalizes that very often those who willingly lose a little bit of their life in defense of something greater, actually wind up “getting their life back” (though life as they knew it may look a little bit different than it did before).

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