Cheerios recently kicked off a campaign to “Save the Bees.” You know, the same bees their growing practices are slowly killing. In an effort to help the problem, they’ve invited folks to order and plant their wildflower packets. The problem, according to LifeHacker, is several of the seed types are considered invasive species in areas all over the United States:
Forget-me-not is banned as a noxious weed in Massachusetts and Connecticut, for example. The California poppy is nice in California, but listed as an “invasive exotic pest plant” in southeastern states. And many of the flowers on this list are not native to anywhere in the US, so they are not necessarily good matches for our local bees.
What the brand is really doing is attempting to improve its reputation without really making a positive impact.
We don’t want your #BeeWashing
The move is similar to the greenwashing several oil companies, auto and chemical manufacturers started to do in the mid-2000s. Companies like General Motors began to promote hybrid vehicles to improve the company image. In truth, the hybrids didn’t lead to significant changes in pollution rates or gas use, and their production numbers didn’t scratch the surface of the gas guzzling models.
In short, they were faking it, just like General Mills is faking now by putting together this unhelpful campaign. If the company really wants to save the bees, it can invest in alternative farming practices, plant region-appropriate wildflowers on a massive scale, lobby for legislation that protects pollinators and the like. Feel free to point it out.
Contact them, and say so today at http://www.cheerios.com/contact — Don’t worry. You don’t have mail a letter or make a phone call. You don’t even have to wait while your email loads. The page has a convenient online form. Take a few seconds to fill it out. This green move couldn’t get any lazier. 😉
Save the bees to save ourselves?
For those who don’t understand why Cheerios – or anyone else – would want to save the bees and keep these little beasties buzzing around our gardens, it all comes down, not surprisingly, to self-preservation.
Bees, and other pollinators, help pollinate many different types of foods. Humans have not designed an efficient means for pollination aside anywhere near being on par with honey bees and butterflies.
If we don’t protect these insects, humans risk a very real food shortage and the driving up prices of food production exponentially around the world.
Pollution is known to be part of the problem. Specifically, one of the most popular types of pesticide in use today – neonicotinoids – is killing off pollinator populations. Worse, pollinators are particularly drawn to it, as it stimulates them much in the same way nicotine stimulates humans, despite being bad for us.
The introduction of invasive species and the disappearance of native wildflowers pollinators need to enjoy a healthy diet are also causing big problems. Some scientists claim global warming is also playing a role.
Cheerio’s campaign touches on these issues, but it does little to help the problem. It’s a feel-good program meant to make themselves look good. The kicker is they could be doing so much more with that investment. General Mills has the sway to make real changes and put real protections in place. Obviously, this campaign is a sign they’re worried. Now, we – the consumers – must convince them to act in the right directions. Thankfully, getting companies to listen to the people buying their products is relatively easy.
What we can do to save bees and butterflies
Shop at Aldi’s. If you have an Aldi’s near your town, use it. The company is based in Germany, which is excellent news for green consumers. Europe’s higher standards have a way of trickling over to their oversea franchises. For instance, the chain has sworn off foods grown using specific pesticides, including three types of neonicotinoids. Your investment in Aldi’s products sends a clear message to other grocers. Buying organic produce from local farmers at a farmer’s market would cut out the pollution from shipping goods, but it might not be as easy as just going to the store when something is needed.
Plant native wildflowers. The wildflower packets shipped by Cheerios aren’t local to your area, which means they might not be healthy choices for your area’s bees. Talk to your local extension office about the best plants for pollinators in your area before you plant anything. By providing bees and butterflies with a rich diet, you naturally improve their health — and the quality of their honey!
Buy local honey. Switching over to local food purchases is easiest when you replace one product at a time. It might be that making a conscious choice to replace your honey with local fare is the perfect first step. This is helpful for more than just bees too. In some cases, ingesting local honey reduces allergy symptoms. More importantly, buying local honey encourages local beekeeping.
Start a hive. Now, this is not the lazy option. In fact, keeping bees is labor intensive–and costs a pretty penny. Just purchasing bees for your own hive costs over $100. However, if you want to go the extra mile to save the bees, look for your state’s beekeeping association. They provide lots of good information, along with local contacts. Beekeeping clubs are on the rise across the U.S. and these groups have gear and experienced beekeepers ready and willing to share their knowledge.