There's far too much greenwashing and it is not just in advertising (though that's predominantly where it is).
Even World Earth Hour was really just mass green washing. The resources put into the event (advertising, Tshirts, trucking & flying in equipment and people for concerts, etc etc) were massive. Here in Christchurch NZ, people saved approx 12% of their electricity.... for one hour. Or annualised that is approx a 0.001 percent electricity saving! There was no long-term benefit. Instead people who attended got to feel they had been given absolution for their wasteful ways: "I don't feel so bad about doing xxx because I made a difference by being part of World Earth Hour".
Reading some "green" car ads would make you think that a "green" car saves the environment. Every mile you drive is helping to save the planet. Of course that is nonsense. You'd be doing far better to be not driving at all. Again this is mainly a way around the guilt trip. It's OK if I drive to the mall every day because I'm using a Prius.
There's a huge parallel between the greenwashing industry and the fashion/weightloss etc industries. Make people feel guilty or inadequate then sell them products that fill that feeling. For the most part many "green" products are about as useful as those ab-isolator exercise machines.
Greenwahing even happens in scientific institutions (NASA, MIT etc). People are modifying (greenwahing) their findings to be more green friendly. Tht's not helping provide the information to make the right decisions.
Greenwashing does everyone a huge disservice. People are conned into buying products and services that do nothing useful. The disinformation destroys rational debate meaning that those with an intent to improve the situation are often not doing useful things.
Written in July 2008