Living lunch hour

Published on October 5th, 2010 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Panasonic Promotes Eco Lunch Hour… Really

Make greener lunch choices with the help of... Panasonic??

Make greener lunch choices with the help of… Panasonic??

No doubt, you understand that the food you choose for lunch (or any meal) has an environmental impact… the folks at the PB&J Campaign (which we featured several years ago) documented the effect of shifting to a plant-based lunch back when they got started. And there’s plenty of other credible information out there on the environmental costs associated with our food choices.

Tomorrow, another player is going to help spread the word on eco-friendly lunch choices: Panasonic.

Yes, that’s Panasonic the electronics and consumer products manufacturer. Their Earth Lunch Hour is a social media-a-thon dedicated to using lunch hour as a time to consider our environmental impact… in terms of what we eat, and the associated resources used, during our daily meal break. That’s right… this major multinational electronics company will spend twenty-four hours focused on…. food.

It’s enough to make a green business advocate exclaim “WTF!” very, very loudly…

Is Earth Lunch Hour Just Greenwash?

It’s tempting to take that path, and proclaim that Panasonic’s focusing on food rather than the impact of its own business operations… the old bait and switch (or, a sort of odd version of the hidden trade-off). But, interestingly enough, they really don’t have much to hide in terms of their own efforts: Greenpeace moved them up from #10 to #6 in the latest edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics. While this movement was “due to the drop in scores of other companies, rather than in improvements in its own performance,” they still got high marks in energy efficiency and chemicals management, and decent scores for its offerings of PVC and BFR-free models of products. Yes, they’ve still got improvements to make… but they also have some cred in the realm of green electronics.

But they’re focusing on lunch hour behaviors…? That’s almost like asking for greenwashing accusations.

I’ve certainly got no problem whatsoever with anyone focusing on healthier and more sustainable food choices… and for greener practices surrounding our mealtime. I’ve got no problem with Earth Lunch Hour itself… more power to it… I’ll probably check in several times during the day. I’m just wondering why a company that could make much more authoritative claims in terms of issues like home energy use, e-waste, and recycling — all important issues that need more input — would devote a day to recipe choices, food ecology, and greener meal clean-up. I really don’t think this is greenwashing… but it’s got me scratching my head nonetheless.

With that said the company is launching a ad campaign next week to tout the ec0-friendliness of its product line (for which I’ll be watching). Perhaps the overall marketing strategy here is just way over my head… but, if that’s the case, I’d love for someone to explain…

Yep, we’ve even got some Panasonic products currently listed in the Green Choices comparison engine… including laptops, vacuum cleaners, and air purifiers.

Image credit: sporkist at Flickr under a Creative Commons license



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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



  • http://www.yahoo.com Bobby

    This also surprises me. But honestly, when it comes to electronics, I want quality products at decent prices and generally pay little attention to the manufacturer’s environmental image.

    I have an older plasma television that was made by Panasonic. It may be only 720P, but I would rank its picture quality right up there with the latest 1080P LCD’s and LED’s; especially for over-the-air broadcasts. Panasonic is one of the few television manufacturers committed to the plasma television platform. Environmentalists don’t really like plasma TV’s, because they tend to use more energy and give off a bit more heat than the other available technologies. However, for those of us with small rooms that require wide viewing angles, nothing at the time of my purchase would have worked as well. If I had had to settle for an LCD, two of my seating locations would only be able to see a dim screen. Since they weren’t around at the time I purchased my television I am not sure if LED’s have viewing angle limitations like LCD’s, but I still haven’t seen one on the store shelf that I’d take on trade for my old Panasonic.

    I also have a Panasonic digital camera. When it comes to photography, I am a rank amateur who has little use for professional grade camera bodies and hosts of bayonet lenses to match every possible situation. I don’t want taking pictures to be an exercise in how much – or how little – I know about lighting, film speed, aperture settings, etc. A good point-and-shoot camera is the best option for someone like me. A few years ago, Panasonic teamed up with Leica (Leica makes really expensive photography equipment) to develop high-quality, motor driven mega-zoom lenses. With this new lens design, one camera with one lens could take pictures of subjects up close and with the touch of a button zoom out to capture distant subjects. My camera was made in 2004 and is really outdated, but it still works like a dream. I don’t know if Panasonic was the first to develop this technology, but over the years compact and DSLR-like cameras with mega-zoom capabilities have become available from almost every camera manufacturer. When compared to my old dinosaur, they all have better specifications and most cost significantly less. I doubt that reducing the complexity of taking pictures by marrying a single, dynamic lens to a single camera body was a green initiative. The manufacturers probably just figured that more people would buy cameras if they found ways to offer big zoom in small packages. However, if you consider how much raw material has been saved by producing small, multi-functional lenses as opposed to large, situation specific lenses, there must be a green lining in there somewhere.

    BTW, is the lobster shown in your photograph considered environmentally friendly cuisine?

  • Pingback: Panasonic Hosting… Earth Lunch Hour? – Eat Drink Better

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    Bobby– Thought hard about the lobster… can’t say for certain. The photo was a good one, otherwise, though. Again, got nothing against Panasonic, or even this event… just thinking there are more fruitful directions for them to go in terms of green events. Electronics has such a huge footprint at all stages of their lifecycles…

  • http://www.earth-list.com Remi

    Good point Jeff. I found another article that’s based on Panasonic and their goals. They have a “Green Plan” that is expected to be set by 2018. Here is the link for anyone interested http://bit.ly/atVHHk. I think that the Eco Lunch Hour is a bit silly but at least they are showing initiative. I believe every company should be looking at ways to reduce their impact on the environment.

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