Digital Artefact: Corporate Greenwashing

Nowadays we use products and services by the emergent media powers who rose and gained worldwide acclaim throughout the last few decades. And since we use their services frequently, we have to be aware of some issues pertaining to those companies in order to see everything as it is. And not an image that is spoonfed to us, without having all the right information. We have to understand that the main goal of large corporations is money, and not some social justice bullcrap they would like for us to believe. A common theme for this, especially since the rise of environmental awareness is Corporate Greenwashing. It is when companies falsely promote their products or services, claiming they would help in the sustainability of the environment when they do not. Some examples could be selling products in an incomplete state, claiming it is to preserve the environment (phone adapters being sold separately). Or companies pledging to get rid of their carbon emission when they are moving in different directions(Microsoft carbon emission pledge while working with the biggest fossil fuel companies).

My digital artifact is an instrumental expressing the feelings I have felt whenever I come across this phenomenon. I want to share this with fellow consumers of products and services of emergent media, as well as people who care about the environment and believe they are supporting a good cause. These are the personas of my target audience.  This is to make people aware of what is going on while they are blindsided by the big firms. We should not look at these companies as all benevolent, and we have to be responsible in each decision we make when we think it aligns with our goals but doesn’t in reality. This, in one way is akin to Neo taking the red pill in the Matrix.

I have experimented with different digital audio workstations(DAW) when working on this project, and was ultimately suggested to try FL Studios by a reader in one of my blogs. I learned how to use the DAW and compose music, albeit at a completely beginner level for now. This did make me learn of all the intricacies and complexities of music composition, giving me a whole different perspective when it comes to music production. This also sparked a new interest in music composition in me, which I could try out just for fun. All the tutorials on YouTube definitely helped me come up with something as my final product. If it were not for them, I would be completely clueless with how to use the DAW. This process was me learning an entire new subject from scratch.

I followed the Fail early, fail often(FIFO) approach by previously having posted some prototypes for my digital artefact online and managed to gain some insightful comments and experience to guide my trajectory of this project. The main insight being, promotion and marketing of something being more valuable than the actual product. People on social media are always looking for something to give a thumbs up to, and they have their own standards. The more a product is “liked” by other people, the more deserving of their “like” they will think a product or post deserves. This is similar to social media channels or accounts. The initial beginning stage is always the most complicated and important in order to grow your presence.

When I first started my digital artefact(DA), I wanted to create a comprehensive blog series that would educate people on the topic of Corporate Greenwashing. My lecturer did not want me to work on blogs. Although I would say writing is my forte, this was a huge blow to me. I would be working on my DA with one arm tied behind my back. I did not understand his thinking process, but I decided to give it a shot. Like your average person, I am a music lover. And I thought experiencing the design process of a song could help me get a new perspective with how composers experience music. This was also a way for me to get out of my comfort zone and try something completely out of my field. When I first downloaded the different DAWs, I was completely flabbergasted. How do I even use these applications?

Because my DA was music composition, I figured it was difficult for my peers to suggest what I could do with it. Seeing as none of them had any experience composing music. Following a peer’s advice, I promoted my song on Twitter with hashtags. I also shared it on our BCM WhatsApp group for it to gain some traction. Instead of creating an informative blog series, I ended up creating an instrumental that was more focused on the emotional side of people. To tug at their heartstrings. My instrumental demonstrates what the sense of dread, hopelessness, disappointment sounded like after coming across corporate greenwashing. What I personally feel, I hope people can resonate with my feeling. I chose to make it instrumental because it is easier for the melody by itself to express my feelings on this topic.

I also decided to post my final product on SoundCloud to see how well it would do and to reach a broader audience after taking the suggestion of one of my peers. As of now, I have gained two new followers after releasing this track.

It was very difficult for me, I could not play any instruments and had to go through every note to figure out how each of them would sound like. I watched numerous videos online to help. I even learned some basic music theory because of this! Thank the lords for the YouTube algorithm! Through trial and error, with me posting some cringe-inducing works of mine online. I managed to receive some helpful advice on some DAWs. I found out FL Studio was one software that was popular among the music geeks these days. A lot of composers were using it, and there was an abundance of materials online. It became apparent to me which software I needed to use for my DA, and to become the next big digital jockey (I’m kidding). Although this is the end of my DA project(the last stage of my design plans), I believe there is always room for improvement. To projects yet to come!

Reference: 

Delmas, M.A. and Vanessa Cuerel Burbano (2011). The Drivers of Greenwashing. California Management Review, [online] 54(1), pp.64–87. 

Egbon, O. (2016). After Greenwashing: Symbolic Corporate Environmentalism and Society. Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, 37(1), pp.73–74.

G Mazzola, GöllerS. and MüllerS. (2002). The topos of music : geometric logic of concepts, theory, and performance. Basel ; Boston: Birkhauser Verlag.

Javier Del Ser and Springerlink (Online Service (2017). Harmony Search Algorithm : Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Harmony Search Algorithm (ICHSA 2017). Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Johansen, B.E. (2015). Eco-hustle! : global warming, greenwashing, and sustainability. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger.

Kamitani, M. and Ae, T. (2004). Augmented interactive evolutionary computation for composition. International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 4(4), p.337.

Kaschub, M., Smith, J. and Menc, The National Association For Music Education (U.S (2009). Minds on music : composition for creative and critical thinking. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Przychodzeń, W.P. (2013). Greenwashing – Myth or Reality in the World of Business? Management and Business Administration. Central Europe, 21(4), pp.132–138.

Ramus, C.A. and Montiel, I. (2005). When Are Corporate Environmental Policies a Form of Greenwashing? Business & Society, 44(4), pp.377–414.

Schwarz, D., Kassabian, A. and Siegel, L. (1997). Keeping score : music, disciplinarity, culture. Charlottesville: University Press Of Virginia.

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