February 2016 Green Tips: Don’t Get Greenwashed!

Have you heard the term “greenwashing”? Added to The Oxford English dictionary in 1999, Greenwashing is defined as, “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” Here are some examples of greenwashing, what the practices of greenwashing are and some websites that shed light on these fraudulent practices. Now more than ever, “Buyer Beware” has profound implications for the health and sustainability of both ourselves, other life on the planet, and our precious Earth:

  • Energy Companies. The gas company, BP, for example, changed its logo to appear more environmentally friendly and yet continues to back out of renewable energy research and implementation. BP also made a deal with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to appear more environmentally responsible. With colorful posters and stuffed animals (made in China) representing endangered species at BP gas stations, the pairing of the two companies led consumers to believe that BP is environmentally conscious and, without even saying it, endorsed by the NWF.
  • Clothing Companies. Back in 2002, Cargill, the world’s biggest producer of corn announceda “revolutionary” new fleece material made from corn sugar, not the traditional petroleum. The catch: Cargill produces genetically modified corn and makes the fleece out of its own crops. Organic clothing retailer Patagonia pulled out of a partnership with Cargill after finding out about its affinity with woven mutant corn.
  • Car Companies. General Motors (GM) is one example of a company that is proud to claim to be green. Its “Gas-friendly to Gas-free” campaign featured a 2010 Yukon Denali Hybrid that gets a meager 21 mpg. Super-efficient vehicles represent only a small percentage of GM’s yearly production, while they still engage heavily in the production of gas-guzzlingcars and trucks. GM’s green marketing fails to note that the company currently produces fifty-one models that get less than 30 mpg, including thirty-five that get less than 20 mpg.
  • The Seven Sins of Greenwashing. Studies on greenwashing practices have been around since 2007. The seven sins are: the sin of the hidden tradeoff (e.g., paper from sustainably harvested trees), sin of no proof (e.g., environmental claims that cannot be substantiated), sin of vagueness (e.g., “all-natural” and “eco-friendly”), sin of worshipping false labels (e.g., the BP logo mentioned above), sin of irrelevance (e.g., “ No CFC’s” since CFCs are banned by law), sin of lesser of two evils (e.g., “organic tobacco”), and finally, the sin of fibbing, (e.g., products falsely claiming to be Energy Star certified). For more about the studies, visit:
  • Bookmark this website: . We’ve mentioned this site before and love it! They rate products on their health, environmental and social impact.


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