As I was procrastinating on doing homework, as per usual, I saw this video from a female Indian rapper named Sofia Ashraf about the destruction Unilever has caused in her home country.
The video starts with a screen describing the situation stating “Unilever dumped toxic mercury in Kodaikanal, poisoning its workers and the forest. In the past 14 years, Unilever has done nothing to clean up the contamination and compensate its workers and their families, despite talking a big game about corporate responsibility”
Ashraf is bringing light to an incredibly serious problem that most have ignored by using strong lyrics about the destruction integrated with an upbeat tune of Nicki Minaj’s “anaconda”.
Her lyrics go on to say ”
Unilever came and left devastation
As they exposed the land to contamination.
So Here’s the story
They set up a thermometer factory
Where workers handled toxic mercury
They dumped their waste in the local shrubbery
Now that’s some toxic shit
By the way, what’d they say?
That their factory was safe as day
They don’t trust a word of what their workers say
What about the polluting, the mercury poisoning?
It’s life threatening. There’s kids suffering.
Poison in the soil you don’t have us foiled.
Your clean was a sham, there’s poison in the air.
You aint done done-da done done done”
When Unilever was confronted with this video they had a lot of corporate bs to say to get people off of their back. Their reply stated that since 2001, the health of their former employee and the environment of Kodaikanal is very important and that they have found no evidence of harm being done to either one. They claim to still be working to find a solution that is mutually satisfactory.
Interestingly enough, just a few weeks after this video was released, Unilever came out with a new ad aimed at “saving the forest”. It is called Farewell to the Forest and the whole idea of the commercial is that trees are safer in the city than in a rainforest. The video has a very sad song in the background with the subject being an old tree that uproots itself and sadly drags itself into the city because it will be safer there. It ends with this wonderful propaganda message stating that ” At Unilever we are committed to making our products sustainably without harming our forests”.Interesting how they did not mention their sustainability efforts or how their products are made “sustainably”. Instead, they use a sad tree to play at people’s emotions, making them think “if I buy this Dove soap, I am helping the rainforest!”. When in fact the soap is probably tested on animals and the packaging is not sustainable. I think Unilever’s marketing team is confusing the word “sustainable” with something else entirely. I would think such a huge company could afford a dictionary, but I suppose all their money is going into their “sustainable products”.