09 July, 2008

Shell. Greenwash, hogwash?

While paying for my petrol last week, I was presented with a Shell Loyalty form and card. Ordinarily I steer well clear of these things. They usually offer not much in exchange for a large amount of information on me and what I do/buy which results in huge amounts of junk mail that gets recycled. But in these days of high petrol prices, I'll admit I was interested enough to take the form and have a look.

The offers such as they are can be summarised as appealing to the self-serving, profligate and conscience-stricken amongst us.

The self-serving get money back on their petrol to use when buying yet more petrol. You get a halfpenny per litre or 1 penny if you buy 200 litres a month. We buy c. 90 litres a month so that is 45 pence. Well, wow. I'm just bowled over by the generosity of the scheme...

The profligate get airmiles for their points. (Head in hands. Are we all lemmings? I was recently sent an offer for a credit card which gives airmiles and apparently won the card of the year award recently. Why?) Anyway, you get one airmile per 20 points or per 20 litres. So that would be 4.5 airmiles a month. They cite a return flight to Brussels for 200 Airmiles (why Brussels?) so at our rate of purchase it would take me nearly 4 years to get there. Brussels here I come in February 2012! Alone. Or maybe here Tom and I come in 2016! Gosh. Can't wait.

And finally, for the conscience-stricken, you can contribute to carbon-offsetting through UN/EU approved schemes.

Now I'm already contributing to Shell's profits by buying my petrol there. And this isn't a discussion of Shell's merits over Texaco, or Esso or whoever. They just happen to be my local and also the cheapest garage around here. So, since I am contributing to their profits, should I make them contribute something to carbon offsetting. This seems tempting, but actually I think it's just an excuse for them to be able to say, look at us, aren't we green and will not make up for everything else they do (Nigeria, backing out of the London Array etc.). Interestingly, they don't say what your contribution to carbon off-setting will be on the form, though they do promise to match it, and send you a certificate too.

The form hasn't quite been recycled yet, but I suspect it is heading that way...

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