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Topic Greenwashing
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Greenwashing was coined by suburban NY environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, in an essay regarding the hotel industry's practice of placing green placards in each room, promoting reuse of guest-towels, ostensibly to "save the environment". Westerveld noted that, in most cases, little or no effort toward waste recycling was being implemented by these institutions, due in part to the lack of cost-cutting affected by such practice. Westerveld opined that the actual objective of this "green campaign" on the part of many hoteliers was, in fact, profit increase. Westerveld hence monikered this and other outwardly environmentally-conscientious acts with a greater, underlying purpose of profit increase as greenwashing.

The term is generally used when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being green (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices. This is often portrayed by changing the name or label of a product, to give the feeling of nature, for example putting an image of a forest on a bottle containing harmful chemicals. Environmentalists often use greenwashing to describe the actions of energy companies, which are traditionally the largest polluters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash

 

Greenwash (a portmanteau of green and whitewash) is a term used to describe the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources.[1] It is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing. The term green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations that attempt to show that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash

 

Definitions

See also:

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Print Resources:

  • Clegg, Brian. 2009. Eco-logic: Cutting Through the Greenwash: Truth, Lies and Saving the Planet. London: Eden Project. ISBN 9781905811250.
  • Greer, Jed, and Kenny Bruno. 1996. Greenwash: The Reality Behind Corporate Environmentalism. Penang, Malaysia: Third World Network. ISBN 9839747169.
  • Lubbers, Eveline. 2002. Battling Big Business: Countering Greenwash, Infiltration, and Other Forms of Corporate Bullying. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press. ISBN 1567512240
  • Tokar, Brian. 1997. Earth for Sale: Reclaiming Ecology in the Age of Corporate Greenwash. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0896085589.

 

 

A commonly cited example of greenwashing is the Bush Administration's Clear Skies Initiative, which environmentalists have argued actually weakens air pollution laws. [4]

Norway's consumer ombudsman has targeted automakers who claim that their cars are "green", "clean" or "environmentally friendly" with some of the world's strictest advertising guidelines. Consumer Ombudsman official Bente Øverli said: "Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others." Manufacturers risk fines if they fail to drop the words. Øverli said she did not know of other countries going so far in cracking down on cars and the environment. [5][6][7][8]

In addition, the political term "linguistic detoxification" is used by some environmentalists to describe when, through legislation or other government action, the definitions of toxicity for certain substances are changed, or the name of the substance is changed, so that fewer things fall under a particular classification as toxic. An example is the reclassification of some low-level radioactive waste as "beyond regulatory concern", which permits it to be buried in conventional landfills. Another example is the EPA renaming sewage sludge to biosolids, and allowing it to be used as fertilizer, despite the fact that it often contains many hazardous materials including PCBs, dioxin, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and asbestos. The origin of this phrase has been attributed to environmental activist and author Barry Commoner.

Several activities designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be considered merely symbolic greenwash. For example, Earth Hour encourages consumers to switch off electric appliances for 1 hour. This may make people feel good about a minor inconvenience without creating any sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Similarly, introduction of a Carbon Emission Trading Scheme may feel good, but may be counterproductive if the cost of carbon is priced too low, or if large emitters are given 'free credits'. For example, Bank of America subsidiary MBNA offers an Eco-Logique MasterCard for Canadian consumers that rewards customers with carbon offsets as they continue using the card. Customers may feel that they are nullifying their carbon footprint by purchasing polluting goods with the card. However, only .5 percent of purchase price goes into purchasing carbon offsets, while the rest of the interchange fee still goes to the bank.[9]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash#Examples

 

Examples:

  • Google has been criticized for claiming its data centers are extremely energy efficient, while refusing to publish any figures on this topic because such information could aid its competitors (an example of the Sin of No Proof).[16]
  • Many food products have packaging that evokes an environmentally friendly imagery even though there has been no attempt made at lowering the environmental impact of its production.[17]
  • An article in Wired magazine alleges that slogans are used to suggest environmentally benign business activity: the Comcast ecobill has the slogan of "PaperLESSisMORE" but ComCast uses large amounts of paper for direct marketing. The Poland Spring ecoshape bottle is touted as "A little natural does a lot of good", although 80% of beverage containers go to the landfill. The Airbus A380 airliner is described as "A better environment inside and out" even though air travel has a high negative environment cost. [18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwash#Examples

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