What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a term used to describe advertising or marketing, including trademark use, that creates the false perception that a product or service is eco-friendly. It’s a combination of the terms “green” and “whitewash”.¬† The prevalence of greenwashing is an unfortunate outgrowth of the new green economy and preys upon the enthusiasm consumers have for making responsible purchasing decisions. Sadly, some businesses find it easier to simply market themselves as green rather than put out the care and expense to walk the walk. In other cases, business are¬†themselves honestly confused about the nature of the claims they are making.

A 1997 report randomly surveyed 1,018 consumer products whose marketing or packaging made a total of 1,753 environmental claims. Amazingly, only one was free of false claims. If extrapolated out, this suggests that the vast majority of eco-friendly claims in the marketplace are false.

The report went on to identify the major types of deception it found, which it styled “sins”. We will discuss these in subsequent posts.

1 Comment »

  1. Greenwashing Sins, Part I: Hidden Trade-Offs | Sustainable Marks Said,

    August 23, 2010 @ 10:54 am

    […] has a darker side. Some goods and services are green in name only. This phenomenon is called greenwashing. Today we continue our multi-part series on this topic by discussing the first “sin” of […]

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