Activism

Climate activist hijacks smoothie brand Innocent’s Trafalgar Square PR stunt

Author and activist Ellen Miles took matters into her own hands after being frustrated at Innocent for what she called "greenwashing".

innocent greenwashing

Mills' TikTok video of her escapade has been viewed over 650,000 times. Image: Ellen Mills/TikTok

A climate activist has ‘hijacked’ a PR stunt by smoothie brand Innocent, claiming covering Trafalgar Squares in trees was nothing more than “greenwashing”.

When author Ellen Miles saw Innocent had decked out the square with more than 6,000 plants on Wednesday as part of a rewilding campaign, she decided to go down and see what the fuss was about.

But when she arrived, she says she saw little information about rewilding, and decided to hijack the event by handing out her own leaflets.

Miles told The Big Issue: “I thought: ‘This is a shame because there’s so much to say about the need for greener cities, and it’s just not really being said. It’s just platitudes and inanity’.”

“There was no meaty information or tips there for people, other than putting Innocent’s logo on a pithy thing saying, like: ‘We like plants’.”

In February, the advertising regulator banned adverts for Innocent, finding they had “misled” customers about the brand’s environmental impact.

Innocent told The Big Issue the Trafalgar Square campaign was part of an effort that includes growing and planting 300 orchards in the UK.

Miles said that as soon as she started handing out her own leaflets, passers-by came to speak to her, assuming she was running the project, and asking her questions.

She took the opportunity to tell them about rewilding and the need for access to green spaces – a topic she has written a book, Nature Is A Human Right, about.

Miles posted her efforts on TikTok, which have been viewed more than 650,000 times, prompting a response from Innocent.

“I do want to tell them how they could be doing something good for community greening rather than looking like they’re doing something good for one day and then ultimately dismantling it on a bunch of trucks to go back into oblivion,” Miles said.

A spokesperson for Innocent told The Big Issue: ‘The Big Rewild is our campaign to protect and preserve 2 million hectares of land in partnership with nature-based charities across Europe, including the UK where we’re growing and protecting 300 orchards with The Orchard Project. 

“We know, like everyone else, that we must play our part in protecting and improving our natural environment and this is just one step. We are committed to keep working and inspiring others to do more, and this is what our event was all about. 

“We know with complex subjects such as these there are often different viewpoints but we were pleased to see thousands of people stop by, engage and start their rewilding journey with the 3 million seeds being given away.”

Kath Rosen, CEO at The Orchard Project, Innocent’s partner for the campaign, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Innocent to bring 300 orchards into the heart of UK urban communities, with the ultimate goal of bringing people closer to nature. 

“We’re all in the middle of a climate emergency and it’s great to see businesses and charities working together collaboratively on these issues.”

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