Eco-Trippin’ on the Green Dot
I can’t tell you how psyched I was when I first heard that the Discovery Channel was launching Planet Green, the first and only network-tv channel dedicated to “all things green”. Even though I’ve sworn off of network TV (except for Oprah, of course), I’ve always loved Discovery for being one of the few networks that offered conscious programming, like the now-defunct Discovery Health and the humanitarian-oriented Animal Planet. And then, on a recent trip, I actually got the chance to sit back and watch the channel for a couple of hours. (Though we’re tv producers, we don’t actually own a TV set. With literally thousands of channels on broadband TV, why bother?).
In any event, I was even more psyched when I learned that eco-celebs like Adrien Grenier, Ludacris and Tommy Lee would be working overtime as on-air personalities to help convert the masses to “going green”. And for the most part, I like their current line-up. But shortly after surfing my way to what I now affectionately call “the green dot channel”, I noticed something audaciously un-green: their sponsors. The first is Proctor & Gamble, a multi-billion dollar company whose personal care products are full of toxic chemicals that are polluting our planet and have been linked to cancer and a number of degenerative diseases in humans. Among a host of earth-damaging company practices, they regularly test their products on animals.
The second is GM, a Fortune 50 company whose Vice Chairman Bob Lutz recently commented that “global warming is a crock of sh#%t”. Moreover, GM has a long track record for spending billions of dollars to keep automotive mpg’s as low as possible—which makes it more expensive for consumers like you and me at the pump. Although they have made small strides to introduce several low-mpg “hybrid” vehicles and gas-guzzling SUVs into the market, the way I see it, these efforts are less about “going green”, and more about what many would call greenwashing.
But who am I to judge? As an independently-funded producer of Conscious TV programming, I understand all too well the challenges inherent in broadcasting positive messages to the masses without pandering to corporate interests which can ultimately compromise the integrity of one’s overarching mission. But perhaps naively, I expected more from a media juggernaut like Discovery Communications, and their 50 million dollar green dot channel, which combined should have the talent and resources to pursue more sustainable advertisers.
Ultimately, I have to ask myself: if GM offered to pay me a whopping $10 Million to advertise on our media platform, would I turn them down? I’d like to think so.