Sunday, January 16, 2011


On the one hand more brands, companies and industries focus on being increasingly sustainable and green by aligning their marketing efforts to reflect their sustainable efforts. One the other hand, taking a closer look at some of these companies will show you that they are actually greenwashing. What is greenwashing and how can you detect if a company greenwashes?

Greenwashing describes "the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company's policies or products (such as goods or services) are environmentally friendly." In other words, companies that greenwash tend to spend more money on making their advertising appear green than actually focusing on reducing the impact on the environment through their actions. 

Here is an example of potential greenwashing by Comcast. Comcast offers customers the option of receiving their bills online by enrolling in the Ecobill service, instead of receiving paper bills. Their slogan is "Save Paper. Save Trees". This alone sounds really good, but then Comcast  utilizes tremendous amounts of paper for their direct marketing campaigns. It appears that many companies today try to be more sustainable, however they do not transfer their efforts to all parts of their business operations (just yet). This contributes to an inconsistent green message, which could then lead to greenwashing accusations.

What can you as a consumer do to avoid greenwashed products and detect greenwashing? Here are some tips:
  • Look for Green Certification from reputable and credible industry organizations
  • Try to identify the original manufacturer. 
  • Generic terms such as "environmentally-friendly" or "earth-smart"are not certified to provide you with any specific information to compare them to other products. 
  • Be aware of any contradictory terms, such as "green" pesticides
  • Take a look at the Greenwashing Index website online. This website allows people to rate marketing campaign based on their authenticity. 
Let us know if you encountered any greenwashing and share you thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! Let's set tougher standards so greenwashing will take a back seat!