Earth Day brings out the best (or worst) examples of greenwashing.
I simply ignored most of the PR pitches I got in the last couple of weeks, but one stood out to me as an absolutely ridiculous spin on a product.
I’m going to take a chance and give it more publicity than it’s worth. Here’s the pitch I got:
“Monopoly®: Planet Earth Edition gives fans the chance to buy, sell and trade the earth’s most natural resources, landscapes, and animals Monopoly® style.”
Are you kidding me? “Buy, sell and trade the earth’s most natural resources…” Isn’t that the opposite of an Earth-friendly idea?
This is the definition of monopoly that I found:
1. the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service : his likely motive was to protect his regional monopoly on furs.
• [usu. with negative ] the exclusive possession, control, or exercise of something : men don’t have a monopoly on unrequited love.
• a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service : areas where cable companies operate as monopolies.
• a commodity or service controlled in this way : electricity, gas, and water were considered to be natural monopolies.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek monopōlion, from monos ‘single’ + pōlein ‘sell.’
Single seller? Exclusive possession? Not so green, it seems to me.
The object of Monopoly is to end up with the most money (or value), while putting the other players out of the game by collecting rent money. So how is the Planet Earth game so different?
“MONOPOLY®: Planet Earth Edition features extremely rare photographs and amazing animal images from all 11 episodes, making it an extraordinary edition of MONOPOLY. This environmentally friendly edition features recycled, earth friendly money, deed cards, Chance, Community Chest cards. In addition, the game includes six collectible pewter tokens: the rare Snow Leopard, the Red Kangaroo, the Emperor Penguin, the Blue Whale, the Elephant and the Polar Bear.”
Recycled, earth friendly money… Hmm.
There is an Earth-friendly version of the game, Earthopoly, which educates kids about climate change, conservation, and taking care of the Earth. It’s about reducing, recycling, and rethinking. Earthopoly includes the ideas of solar power, wind power, and carbon credits, not the buying of natural resources. It does concern property values, though, so it’s still about possession, but it’s definitely greener than Monopoly.
I’m raising my kids to be aware of the effects of their behavior both on the planet and in their community, and cooperation is what we teach, not “end up with the most money.” There’s nothing wrong with money, per se, as it’s a necessary symbol of value in our culture, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all game plan in our house. So no Monopoly Planet Earth for us, thanks.
The point I’m trying to get at here is that because the new edition covers rare animals and natural habitats, it’s being sold as green and earth friendly, but it really isn’t.
It’s a marketing campaign to sell more movies and games.
However, if you want “extremely rare photographs and amazing animal images,” and the collectible pewter tokens, then go ahead and pick up the game today. I’m sure USAOPOLY, Hasbro, and the BBC will take your earth friendly money.
And PR people: Think twice about the wording of your release before pitching it to bloggers.
Image: woodleywonderworks at Flickr under CC License
Oh, that’s hilarious. And a little sad.
Shaping Youth says
Glad you differentiated on Earthopoly, Derek, because the truth is, lots of kids learn cues through gaming and entertainment.
I STILL attribute my geography grade to my game play of ‘Risk’ as a kid. Anyway, point well taken, that the concept of Monopoly is a stretch when it comes to commodification, resources, etc.
I’d love to hear your take on Habitat Heroes and some of the new eduventures coming onto the scene, like the Why Reef in Whyville, etc.—I’m trying to get some teens/tweens in there testing it out for a youth POV, but am short-handed.
Off to run our screening of Consuming Kids tonight! (which, btw, they’re offering to others to screen now too!) More on that soon. Hope to be back at ECP next month more. sigh.