Green Glossary | Greenwashing


Greenwashing is the use of deceptive and unsupported claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, technology, or company practice. By doing this, a company seems to be more eco-friendly than it truly is and reaps the benefits of being portrayed as a sustainable company. This is also prevalent in the packaging industry. Companies have been using colors and labels on their packaging to appear more eco-friendly when in reality, it is nothing more than a skewed perception.

Here are the 7 sins of greenwashing (ordered from most common to least common)

1. The sin of hidden trade-off: Occurs when one environmental issue is stressed, resulting in more serious concerns being neglected. An example is products involving bamboo. Although bamboo is a sustainable material, manufacturers conceal the fact that a harsh chemical process is used to turn bamboo into a usable product.

2. The sin of no proof: This happens when environmental issues are not backed up by research or evidence. Products that promote "no animal testing", but have offer no validation is an example of this sin.

3. The sin of vagueness: Occurs when a marketing allegation is lacking detail and results in meaningless information. The use of the words "all natural" is an example of this. "All natural" is not necessarily "green".

4. The (new) sin of worshiping false labels: This happens when marketers use a false certified looking image or statement that misleads the consumer into thinking that the product went through an actual green certification process.

5. The sin of irrelevance: This happens when a company focuses on an environmental issue that is unrelated to the product. "CFC-free" is an example of this sin. It makes no sense to put this on a product considering CFCs are banned by law.

6. The sin of lesser of two evils: This sin focuses on making a consumer feel green about a certain product, but the product itself is lacking environmental benefits. Organic cigarettes are an example of this sin.

7. The sin of fibbing: The environmental claims made are actually false. The most common use of this sin is when companies claim that their products are Energy Star certified.

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