It can be a tough dilemma – who do you take money from and who don’t you? The richest companies are often the ones doing most damage to the planet. Is it ok to accept money from them? What if you use the money to do something good? Is it hypocritical to take money from and oil company if you are campaigning on climate change?
There is so much hypocrisy in the environmental world. Climate change campaigners flying in aeroplanes; vegan campaigners still not replaced their leather shoes. But it is so hard to be consistently green especially if you want to get stuff done, that hypocrisy is something you might just have to live with.
Someone who got it wrong was Economist magazine with their conference on sustainability. There was a guy talking about the importance to do agriculture sustainably. Looming behind him was the logo of sponsors Bayer, the owners of Monsanto, the company which is most famous for providing the chemicals in the chemical warfare that industrial farmers wage against nature. Surely an own-goal.
An elegant way of balancing the good and bad of sponsorship is Novak Djokovic’s dismissal of the Evian water bottle at the winner’s press conference at Wimbledon in 2019. It’s no more than a nudge – just a discreet comment to the management of Evian that it would be great for them to work a bit harder on a sustainable business model.
But we are in a climate emergency. Can we hold sponsors to higher standards? Can sponsors doing good, purposeful business, replace the old dinosaurs?