Green Washing - Have you been fooled?,

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference that addressed "Green Washing". I always thought that I was careful in the things that I purchased, using "green" products and purchasing from manufacturers who utilized "green" practices in their manufacturing process, but I learned there were a lot of manufacturers out there simply attaching the word "green" to their businesses without really changing anything they were doing to an environmentally friendly process or product. Many are simply using our concerns about global warming and pollution as a marketing tool.
I wondered if I was the only trusting individual out there, or have others been fooled by this insult to our intelligence.

7 replies

Vinegar, water, and a little Tea Tree essential oil, that's how I go about green washing!

Seriously though, cleaning products with pictures of sunflowers and grass blades lining the shelves of super markets across the land are not a green product. The re-branding to say "we've ALWAYS been green" is insulting.

Successful, but insulting.

I took the time to read the labels and saw a few friends buy into the marketing hype. For me if a window cleaning solution company really wants to go green, how about selling their product in bulk and encouraging people re-use their old near-pristine spray bottles?

Until then I'll make my own.

Written in July 2008

Greenwash is everywhere, and often the most polluting industries are the most guilty.The key is spotting it. Here are the Greenwash guide's ten signs to look out for:

1. Fluffy language - 'eco' is a philosophy, not a marketing prefix
2. Green products as part of a wider non-green range - sustainability is not a lifestyle option. let's see some real company-wide principles please.
3. Suggestive imagery - flowers do not bloom from tailpipes
4. Irrelevant claims - small gestures championed as big ones
5. Best in class - being the best of a bad lot doesn't make you good.
6. Lack of credibility - some industries just can't be green
7. Jargon - confusing the consumer with science
8. Imaginary friends - endorsements or sticking a conservation logo somewhere on your ad because you made a donation recently
9. Proof - substantiate your claims
10. Outright lies - the most offensive kind of greenwash

See the Greenwash Guide here:

Written in July 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

Thanks for the link Jeremy, great reading. Very interesting to look at the charge of the differences in advertising between the US and other countries.

Written in July 2008

Uh, that should be chart, not charge. Sorry!

Written in July 2008


Written in July 2008

Charles M. 110°

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

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jutin clvin

new york, United States