Greenwashing Guide

Greenwash is growing... Download The Greenwash Guide (PDF)
For a year, Ed Gillepsie made his way round the world without setting foot on a plane. Along the way, he blogged about his low-carbon adventures and wrote a regular column for the Observer.

But these days, he's back in the offices of Futerra, the communications agency he helped found, and turning to another kind of writing. Most recently, the UK-based agency that focuses solely on corporate responsibility and sustainability released a report on the state of greenwash, that advertising method that companies use, as Gillepsie writes, "to outgreen the competition".

Available for download, The Greenwash Guide (PDF) provides an in-depth look at the problem's history and current status, global advertising regulations, advertising agency responses and the top ten signs that a commercial is just after your cash.

It also lays a claim that those pretty pictures of pastoral scenery surrounding that shiny SUV aren't only annoying -- they're dangerous, the publication states. They confuse consumers and build a certain cynicism. And statistics show that this is already happening.

Surveys in the UK and USA show this undermining of consumer confidence is well underway. In fact some show that 9 out of 10 of us are sceptical about green or climate change information from companies and governments. Half of us in the UK have no idea what to believe and 80% want to see companies back up ethical claims with proof. The same is the case in America. Seven in ten Americans either "strongly" or "somewhat" agree that when companies call a product green it's usually just a "marketing tactic" and therefore to be mistrusted.
While many hold that false claims and manipulations are just part of advertising, things are a bit different when the planet is at stake. Says the report:
Greenwash is having an insidious, measureable, and potentially catastrophic impact. It's actually quite simple: greenwash threatens the whole business rationale for becoming more environmentally friendly. Greenwash is slowly eating away at the best part of the green business case.
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