Advertising claims

Did you book a seat on JetAmerica, the flightless airline?

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

My colleague Chris Serres, one of the authors of the “Lenders Gone Wild” series that has stirred up state lawmakers, alerted me this week to the demise of JetAmerica, a startup airline he reported on, with a dose of skepticism, in May. Back then, it intended to offer flights between Minneapolis and Toledo starting Aug. 14, even though it hadn’t even cleared that plan with the Metropolitan Airports Commission. So Chris wasn’t shocked when the company made this announcement, less than two months later:


“Biodegradable” claims for these disposable products are a bunch of hooey, FTC says

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

disposableplate.jpgIn the end, everything we produce is biodegradable, in a cosmic sense. That doesn’t mean everything you use and toss can sport that label so you feel better about buying it. This week the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on Kmart, Tender and Dyna-E for dubious claims of biodegradability. Guidance from the FTC since 1992 has set a standard that allows the biodegradable label “only if they have scientific evidence that their product will completely decompose within a reasonably short period of time under customary methods of disposal.”

The performance of my compost pile raises questions about the biodegradability of all kinds of wholesome vegetable and fruit trimmings (not to mention the toxic-smelling fumes wafting into the alley). I fully expect that all the plastic cups and styrofoam peanuts and assorted artificial junk that comes in every birthday party goody-bag that appear in my house will eventually join the Texas-sized island of pollution dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Long after we’re dead, these things will still be around, dug up by archeologists from some future, and hopefully, greener civilization that figured out how to live without disposable plates, moist wipes and compact towels.

Message of the trash truck: Who needs wetlands when you have garbage dumps

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

landfillwildlife.JPGI snapped this photo of a Waste Management truck pulling out of an alley in Minneapolis’s Elliott Park neighborhood. The message intrigued me – don’t feel bad about our disposable society, piles of garbage are good for animals. Apparently it’s not about seagulls. When I excavated a bit further, I learned that the figure refers to land set aside adjacent to the trash giant’s landfills. It’s a partnership with a group called the Wildlife Habitat Council, a 21-year-old nonprofit group that defines itself as “the first cooperative effort between the environmental community and industry.” The TV commercial Waste Management produced makes a landfill look like a pristine wetland – not a disposable diaper in sight.

The feel-good trash truck message is part of the hauler’s multi-million dollar effort to green its image. Garbage is still gold for Waste Management: the company netted $1.08 billion on $13 billion in revenue last year. It employs 45,000, operates 273 landfills and handled 110 million tons of trash last year.