Environmental Greenwashing

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Greenwashing is any form of marketing or public relations that links a corporate, political, religious or nonprofit organization to a positive association with environmental issues for an unsustainable product, service, or practice. In some cases, an organization may truly offer a green product, service or practice. However, through marketing and public relations, one is wrongly led to believe this green value system is ubiquitous throughout the entire organization. Greenwashing, on a corporate policy level, can be difficult to accurately assess because, according to most accounts, you can’t be just a little bit green. There has been much written about the motives of corporations adopting green policies – from being defeated by environmental activists to diverting public attention away from dismal records in other areas to being opportunistic by realizing they can make more green by being more green.

We, at the consumer and professional levels, aren’t capable of discerning the reasons for a company’s green purchasing or construction policies, or why they deliver green products to the marketplace. So what if there were ulterior motives as long as their policies and products do, in fact, help protect the environment? If the claims about green products are not misleading or false, the company should receive credit. However, Hefty trash bags, Pampers and Luvs disposable diapers and aerosol spray products, to name a few, have been taken to task for making false or misleading claims. Some self-proclaimed green producers found themselves being investigated by state attorneys general for false advertising and other offenses against the consumer.

For consumer protection against false or misleading marketing, there are groups that monitor green product claims.

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