During the 1970s and 80s as the modern environmental movement grew and people became more aware of environmental degradation, many companies and trade associations, particularly those involved in mining, oil, forestry and chemical manufacture turned to school materials to get their message into schools.
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For example, the American Nuclear Society produced a kit which told children about the beneficial uses of nuclear technology and attempted to describe the problem of waste disposal in harmless terms: “Anything we produce results in some ‘leftovers’ that are either recycled or disposed of—whether we’re making electricity from coal or nuclear, or making scrambled eggs!”
Industry sponsored school materials seek to:
Procter and Gamble produces environmental education materials for school children. One of its educational packages Decision Earth was distributed to almost 75,000 schools in the US. The aim of this package was “to raise student awareness of the complex consumer product choices they face and help them make informed choices based on the product’s ability to meet their needs as consumers.”
The package contained some highly controversial claims on waste disposal, mining and forestry issues. For example, Procter and Gamble argued in their package that disposable diapers are no worse for the environment than cloth diapers. The company just happens to be the world’s largest manufacturer of disposable nappies although this wasn’t mentioned in the package. The package described garbage-fuelled incineration processes where energy is recovered, as “thermal recycling” and without mentioning the toxic ash or emissions that result.
Decision Earth was subject to various complaints and is no longer distributed in the US.
As part of a comprehensive PR effort to portray fracking, a method of fracturing underground rock formations to release gases for energy, as environmentally friendly, the fracking industry has been sending 'experts' into Australian schools. Fracking is opposed by some 160 community groups around Australia and there is a fracking moritorium in Victoria.
Fracking company, Buru Energy, "also offers sponsorship for star performers in schools and runs colouring competitions for kids' drawings to be put in the company's corporate calendar".
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