Mainstream Environmentalism was Shaped by Corporate Propaganda

Regular people need to cut back on everything while corporations do business as usual

Deepti Kannapan
3 min readJan 18, 2023

When you think of living sustainably or going green, what is the most mainstream advice that comes to mind?

Is it:

  1. recycle, and

2. decrease your personal carbon footprint?

Now, neither of these are bad things to do. But have you wondered why they are among the FIRST things that comes to mind, over volunteering at a nature preserve or joining a local environmental activism group?

Well, it appears that corporate propaganda has been dictating the conversation.

Personal Carbon Footprints

The idea of tracking our personal carbon footprint comes from a surprising place: an oil company.

Researchers Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes write: ‘The very notion of a personal “carbon footprint,” for example, was first popularized in 2004–2006 by oil firm BP as part of its $100+ million per year “beyond petroleum” US media campaign.’

Why would an oil company do such a thing? Probably because they have us focusing on ourselves as consumers, rather than collectively demanding accountability from them.

Oreskes and Supran continue:

Experimental evidence appears to support this conclusion…



Deepti Kannapan

Painter, occasional cartoonist, aerospace engineer. Writes about sustainable technology, creativity, and journaling.