“The phenomena of socially and environmentally destructive corporations, attempting to preserve and expand their markets or power by posing as friends of the environment.”- Definition of Greenwashing according to CorpWatch.
Perhaps a more consumer friendly definition is the one provided by the Stop Greenwash site, “Used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”
The site goes on to explain,
“The average citizen is finding it more and more difficult to tell the difference between those companies genuinely dedicated to making a difference and those that are using a green curtain to conceal dark motives.”
Terrachoice has defined the Six Sins of Greenwashing-
- Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off
- Sin of No Proof
- Sin of Vagueness
- Sin of Irrevelance
- Sin of Fibbing
- Sin of the Lesser of Two Evils
Go on over there and check out all the details, and if needed, download your Six Sins Wallet Cards to carry with you while out shopping (they are free).
Once you’ve printed out your wallet cards (on recycled paper, of course), then read up on Home Depot’s Eco Options. You may be surprised how easy greenwashing sneaks into our lives every day.
Be aware of generic earth friendly claims “earth friendly”, “eco friendly”, “environmentally friendly”, “chemical free”, and “all natural” are just some examples. If a product truly has environmental and/or health benefits, it will be clearly labeled in real language and should have certification to back up the claims.
There are no chemical free products, even water has a place on the periodic table. While out shopping I’ve come across bath and beauty products labeled with “Natural”, “Earth”, “Recyclable”, and packaged in attractive, natural looking containers (bags that look like feed sacks, boxes that are unbleached and look like recycled paper, etc…). The recycle symbol is popping up EVERYWHERE and in reality, many of these items may be recyclable, but there are not centers/collection readily available.
Some companies/products/marketing we believe are guilty of greenwashing:
- Clorox (which unfortunately includes Burt’s Bees and now GreenWorks)
- Toys R Us
- Energy Star Rating System
What companies, products, policy or marketing have you seen that is a big greenwash?