Can a brand compensate for cheap, poor quality clothing made in unethical working conditions by using recycled polyester, having plastic free packaging or promising to reduce their carbon emissions in the next 20 years?
Or how about the owner of a company known for treating employees poorly donating millions to charities or organisations that care for the environment or support disadvantaged communities.
In both examples above these companies will rarely state their own internal issues. However, when it comes to their sustainability initiatives and charitable donations, they proudly claim it.
We all prefer to highlight and focus on the good things that we’ve done. But I think in some cases it’s our way of painting over the cracks. In other cases, sometimes the goal is to do whatever it takes to make as much as possible then use those profits for good causes. This is because you make more money when you do things like keep workers wages low and hold back on prioritising the environment.
And to answer my own question, the answer is no.
I don’t think you can balance out continuously treating one set of people badly by treating other people well. I don’t think you can compensate continuous environmental harm by planting lots of trees.
Yet, at the same time I think that there are circumstances where these efforts to offset are better than nothing at all.
But in an idea world more time, money, effort and energy would go into reducing the issues at the start rather than mitigating them once the damage was already done.