Kari Fulton Looks Out For Greenwashing

The activist talks about environmental justice and where Whole Foods and Patagonia fit in.
  • Transcript


Question: What is greenwashing?

Kari Fulton: Yeah, surprisingly enough. So I went to Whole Foods the other day, maybe a few weeks ago and it had organic apples on sale for like 99 cents like a pound or something crazy like that. And that's like great because if you go to Giant or any regular grocery store, it's going to be at least $1.69 per pound. That's the real issue is that for the grocery stores and this is an issue, I was just down in New Orleans and I was talking to some people down there and they were talking about the East Bank where most of the black folk live and they are saying how there is no real grocery stores and the prices of the grocery stores that is in that area are at least like two or three dollars higher for things like milk.

So, it's the placement for certain things like organic foods can be affordable but a lot of times they won't sell in our neighborhoods because they'll say like, "Oh well, there is a high crime rate in that neighbourhood," or "The economic demographics aren't what they need to be," so that we can actually sell our products here. So people who live in this low-income communities are paying more for this worse stuff than people who live in more affluent communities. So that kind of is irritating. I think that groups is like Whole Foods and other organic grocery stores should be working to put more grocery stores in low-income areas to benefit from that.

One thing though about DC is we have the highest number of farmer's markets per capita for that area which is really good because a lot of the farmer's market takes wick in EBT which is important but they only happen like every weekend and it's seasonal.

But as far like things like Patagonia, stuff like that, all of that is green washing to me because yeah, you... it's good that you made the clothes with organic cotton but people of color had been green from jump street, a lot of the things that people have been talking about like, oh, I'm shopping vintage so I'm green now. I was shopping at the thrift store before you, like we didn't necessarily shop at a thrift store but I definitely was shopping at the thrift store as a little kid and so were a lot of people. So a lot of people were conserving energy because your grandmother tells you to turn that damn light off. So, it is not a case to me of to spend... to be green you have to spend lots of money. I think the biggest thing is to be green, you have to go back, think about what your grandparents were doing and how they were saving money because a lot of that stuff of saving money is also green when you think about it.

Question: Is the environmental movement too privileged?

Kari Fulton: The environmental movement is really a movement of privilege more than anything else like there aren't too many advocacy, progressive movements where you can say, "Yes, I am privileged enough to care about polar bears and Arctic sea change," because first of all the people I worked with on a daily basis don't, number one, probably are n not going to see a polar bear outside of a zoo and, number two, if you tell them, a lot of them, if you tell them, "Yeah, we want to reduce carbon 80 percent by 2050," they are looking at you and they're thinking, "I don't even expect to live to be... to 2050."

Recorded on: May 8, 2009