By Rachel Rye Butler, Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign Organizer
"No Tar Sands!" That's the message the activist light brigade delivered to attendees of the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego this week when they crashed the corporate beach party -- via kayak flotilla. You read that right: light brigade via kayak flotilla.
The activists weren't invited to the corporate beach party at the conference, but they came anyway because the message is so important.America's biggest corporations are also America's biggest consumers of oil -- meaning that unless they institute policies to avoid the dirtiest sources of oil, they're also the largest consumers of fuel derived from tar sands.
Mining, refining, and transportation of tar sands -- one of the dirtiest and most destructive sources of oil on the planet -- is an environmental and human catastrophe. But some companies, it seems, have not yet gotten the memo.
Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as owner/operators of some of the largest private carrier vehicle fleets in North America -- with more than 100,000 cars and trucks combined -- haven't yet made the commitment to do the right thing and say no to tar sands.
So, activists came together in a 20+ kayak flotilla -- along with a giant neon banner reading, "Coca-Cola and Pepsi, stop driving tar sands destruction!" -- to show the thousands of representatives from major U.S. corporations who are attending this year's conference that it's time to make the commitment to get off tar sands.
Of course, we crashed their party after having already shown up uninvited at lunchtime to unveil Coke and Pepsi tar sands can designs, taken to the tweets through messages on the conference's hashtag, and slipped "Tastes Like Tar Sands" materials under conference participants' hotel room doors earlier in the week.
We know that the message has been getting across, and many conference participants conveyed their support for the campaign or expressed interest in learning more about tar sands. On the ground and online, more and more people are asking these companies to take responsibility for their actions.
So, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, it's your move. Until then, the pressure's on.