Green Companies

In my last blog I defined greenwashing and offered some examples of what greenwashing consists of. In all fairness I would like to also mention the fact that there are companies out there that actually are “green”. According to some of the top green companies are Honda, PG & E, and S.C. Johnson are among those that made the list.
Honda is interested in fuel economy and alternative fuel. They have produced products that reduce CO2 emissions and other types of hybrid vehicles. The Honda Civic Hybrid is a relatively new vehicle that Honda has produced. One of their goals is to make it somewhat affordable and increase its availability across the globe.
In a press release from 2006, PG&E made the announcement they wanted to “make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation” ( Some of the steps they took towards this were investing $5 million for new solar installations and working with other agencies in looking into other renewable energy options.
S.C. Johnson not only has energy turbines powering one of their plants, they also use something called Greenlist. Greenlist is the process of rating raw materials in order to “protect the planet and its people” and at the same time making quality products (
So we have options to live, drive and clean while being green and the above companies are working towards that common goal.

Melanie P.

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Truth in recycling

Before the current economic crisis we had a term that we threw around, “truth in lending.” This term is all well and good, but it makes one wonder if there is truth in other endeavors; in this case I would question the term “truth in recycling.”
When we place our recyclable goods on the curb we have a reasonable expectation that those goods are going end up at a plant that can reuse what we would have otherwise thrown away, our old can of peaches can turn into a new can for peaches and the environmental impact falls solely on the energy needed to make old into new; we also assume that our recycling plants utilize environmentally friendly power sources but that is another story entirely.
Ponder what happens when you actually drive to a plant and spend an additional sum of money to properly dispose of your used consumer electronic products. Of course one would assume that these hazardous products (the chemicals inside computers and cell phone batteries for example are very toxic) would be properly recycled, or at least made less-toxic.
Consider the above images from third world countries that do not possess the means to purchase these products for themselves (therefore they had to come from an outside source). Look at what persons are doing to try and ply a small semblance of sellable goods out of our previously ‘recycled’ electronics.
Scary. Greenwashing utilizes numerous methods towards deceit.

-John O

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Greenwashing is a deceiving way of showing that an advertiser is environmental friendly by “going green” but in fact only using this term to cover up something that can actually be harmful to people or the environment in short or long term.
Why do many advertisers “greenwash”? To get noticed in a way that it will benefit the company in many different ways, some examples are; money, awards, and world wide recognitions, which benefit the company.
Becoming aware of greenwashing is important in helping the environment. has information on some companies that companies that “greenwash”.

C. Ramon

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What is Greenwashing? Greenwashing is a term used to describe various companies and organizations that spend time and money advertising that they are eco-friendly, but are not actually doing anything, or very little to help the environment. An example of this is when vacationing and staying at a hotel, you re-use your sheets because the sign next to the bed tells you that you are helping the environment by doing so. In reality you are saving the hotel money! Another example of greenwashing are companies that advertise their products are organic but they also use chemically engineered foods.

~Melanie P.

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Public Surveys

Not being very technically savvy, I launched a few surveys of my own. Not on the computer, over the internet, but out in the general public. This is where I find it to be the most diverse, when coming from a topic like greenwashing. A question as simple as "have you ever heard of the term greenwashing?" If so, can you tell me anything about it? From a public stand-point there were two seperate areas: (1) the coffee shop crowd, and (2) the employee based crowd, that of the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District. The third area was taken from my wifes corporate office of Pacific Corp. Power. Ranking highest among the three groups was the obvious favorite, Pacific Corp. Out of a possible 30 surveyed, 25 could give a relatively good answer to the questions. The employee base had a meager 8 participants give good answers, with 3 giving shady yet acceptable ones. The coffee shop crowd scored slightly higher, gaining 4 up with 12 good answers to the questions on greenwashing.

When concluding the surveys to each individual that did not have an adequate answer to the questions at hand, it was followed by a conclusionary question of "then what does it make you think of when you hear the term?"

The overwhelming consensus was that in the era that we are living in today, with our resources becoming so precious, our society is focusing ever so heavily on the concept of becoming green. It must have something to do with this. Atleast they were on the right track.

The importance of this goes to show where our information is being processed.
We see the corporations are going to be the best informed, they may be involved in some fashion. Many times it generates at this point. The working class is not so informed, yet may keep informed through reading. These are the people that are trying to get washed over, remember. While the coffee-shop crowd is slightly more sophisticated, spends time keeping up on what is going on in the world, and is not necessarily going to be persuaded by issues and topics of the government. They get involved in the community.

By Steven Campbell

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Greenwashing Site

After researching a couple of articles about greenwashing, I took the time to admire some important elements about the sites that I found to be intriguing. Reading Gardner while browsing through the sites, I am able to depict the subtle yet important characteristics that capture the viewers attention unknowingly. Moving of objects for example. The auditory senses that Gardner mentions in the reading appear to be a trigger point when dealing with site of this nature. I would imagine it plays a significant role as well, what the topic of concern around the site is may be too. A site of plain and ordinary layouts may not seem as appealing to the eye, as say that of the colorful, vivid, slide-show, illuminating, sound-filled, ones. It would be difficult to fit all of this into one site, yet a couple of them, even a few can turn a topic that is not well-known, into one that can at least be recognized and read about. If only because of the interesting layout of the site itself; then you have been successful in the job.

By, Steven Campbell

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Topic of Greenwashing

Regarding the topic of greenwashing, I had only heard and read some brief information concerning the issue surrounding this before the class began. Until now I never truely knew how much of an impact it actually had on the public interest. Although when generally speaking, anytime government or corporate influence lends itself to persuade or manipulate others into believing that an issue or policy is of greater benefit to the public than meets the eye. In reality, the only benefit gained will be through the pocket-books of the politicians or corporate ownership who look to pass these issues over on the people. Only cutting turnover rates, or possibly increasing paychecks for themselves. In a world that is ever changing in the direction of eco-friendly, we have to cautious of what we say and what we do. More important, who we listen to and who we decide to trust. Knowing the topic at hand is a key to overcoming the dilemna that is greenwashing. We cannot always control what others choose to do or go about doing their perspective business per se; but like in the book of Gardner: we can control the persuasion of our own minds.

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Worst Greenwashers

An online Business Ethics site titled Greenwashing states, "What is greenwashing, and why is it a problem?" The information covers the term greenwashing nicely but also has links to other informative sites and also discusses the top ten worst greenwashers of the year. The site talks about the illusion of environmental sustainability causing society to continue to use products under misrepresentation from claims within their advertisements.
For more information from this site go to

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Juli Knapp

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Chevron Using Greenwashing

A look at Chevron's website ( will give you a whole host of ways in which the company is improving the environment while still posting record profits from the exploitation of oil. Notably, their list of awards are from governments like Nigeria and Indonesia. And the award from Indonesia wasn't even an environmental award, it was for "Most Admired Company". Do they really want us to believe that they are being environmentally friendly and support the development of alternative fuels when they make billions of dollars in profits from our dependence on oil? A case of greenwashing? I think so.

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Wal-Mart’s “Eco-Friendly” Jewelry Line

Wal-Mart claims that one of their jewelry lines is eco-friendly because consumers can trace the mines origins to the Jewelry Sustainable Value Network. That is not so, according to Global Response. The jewelry line is not eco-friendly and the mines are not monitored or certified by any credible independent agent. The Center for Biological Diversity busts Wal-Mart for greenwashing, "taking advantage of people’s genuine concern for the planet and luring them into purchasing."

Click here to read the article
Mike Taylor

Visit our site: article on Greenwashing posted an interesting article a couple of weeks ago referencing the difficulty in finding fact from fiction when it pertains to greenwashing. If you think that the product you are buying is environmentally friendly you may be in for a surprise. While we are studying this phenomenon be sure to see what some of the experts are saying. For more information be sure to check out the article.

Click here to read the article.

-John O.

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Bogus Environmentalism

I never heard of the term greenwashing until it was introduced to me in this class. The more I learn of it, the more I become aware of the many businesses out there who claim they practice being green or eco-friendly, but in fact they do not. Greenwashing is clearly defined as nothing but bogus environmentalism of a company’s public relations' initiatives, e.g. advertising or public consultation, that claim to show concern for the environmental impact of their business activities. To falsely capitalize on green or being eco-friendly in attempt to re-attract customers or expand into a new demographic pool in attempt to generate revenue is simply wrong. And those businesses that do should be held accountable for their actions, regardless of the level of their doings. For those businesses that do care about the environment and that demonstrate and adhere to the green standards, should be rewarded.

Mike Taylor

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Local Greenwashing

The concept of Greenwashing applies to companies, industry, government, politicians and non-government organizations. As I read the comments and posts of the members of this class as well as conduct my own research online, I cannot help thinking about the massive hypocrisy of many individuals as well. Similar to that of the many organizations that are trying to put a spin on their environmental virtuosity, there are a tremendous number of people who are claiming a disingenuous or insincere commitment to environmentalism or to present and environmentally responsible image. Some examples are those who oppose traditional deforestation practices, but turn around and live in wooden houses and heat their homes with wood fireplaces.

Of course, there are many people and organizations that are becoming more aware of the impact our footprints are leaving on the environment and are working to make an effort to become more environmentally friendly. It is the hypocrisy and dishonesty that is creating another significant layer of concern.

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Greenwashing: A Dirty Past

Have you ever opened a magazine and seen an advertisement by Chevron that proudly announces that they support the development of new energy sources? Does this seem incongruent with the fact that they are posting record profits from the lack of new technologies being available to the public? A recent ad in The New Yorker claims:

“The world demands more and more energy. Where will it come from? We at Chevron are working to provide more of it, both responsibly and efficiently. And we’re developing alternatives. But it is just as important for all of us to do more with less” (The New Yorker, Oct 6, 2008 – last page).

Really? Isn’t this counterintuitive? Do oil companies really want us to cut back on our consumption? Yet they are spending millions in advertising to convince us that they are concerned about the environment and the energy crisis facing the American people. You have just been a victim of “greenwashing” advertising.

Apple Dictionary defines “greenwashing” as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image”. Greenwashing can be found in all areas of our media and culture and is an attempt to ease the discomfort people are feeling about the waste generated by our society. With news everyday about global climate change and pollution issues, we need to seek ways to truly become a green society without the false “greenwashing” that we are marketed.

- Gina Mason

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I like to think of Greenwashing the same way I think of deceptive advertising. If people think you are doing something they believe in they will follow that company because they think it is what they should believe in. We know with advertising, companies will do anything to sway a customer with little regard to how their product might affect the consumer. Their entire goal is to get the consumer to buy their stuff not matter what.

Greenwashing takes on that same face. Making people believe that something is good for them so they buy it, no matter what the repercussions or consequences to the consumer.

This goes hand in hand with Gardner's book Changing Minds. People change their minds when they feel like it is worth changing, or when they hear, see or feel something that they feel good about. They don't always look at the fine print and not everyone is cautious about what they get into. Advertising, in terms of Greenwashing is a deceptive practice that people might not even "think" about researching. If someone says it is good, then it must be good.

This is a term that is new to me.

Tina Lymath

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After reading chapter one of Changing Minds by Howard Gardner I began to see how companies could use greenwashing to distort relative information in a false manner as to influence a specific target market. This means a company, organization and/or government could use various mental representations of what it means to be green in a way that leads the public to think they are behaving in a culturally expected "green" manner.
Looking at the 80/20 rule of mental representations it is fair to assume that these large institutions practice this mode of operations when greenwashing. Meaning that 80% of what an institution claims as environmentally friendly is in reality only 20% of the truth. The validity of the claim made by a greenwashing institution is altered to portray an inaccurate image that falsely connects the public or target market to the cultural notion of what it is to be environmentally concerned.

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My thoughts on "greenwashing"

The topic of "greenwashing" is an interesting one, especially in this day and age when so many companies and organizations claim to be eco-friendly - or "green" - but never really seem to explain what they mean by that... In other words, you have to wonder if they're really doing anything, or if they're simply throwing the word "green" around just to look good. It always amuses me when car companies brag about how fuel-efficient or "green" their latest models are in various commercials. Or how gas and oil companies - of all things - like to make similar claims as well. No matter what, cars that need oil and fuel will still produce carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions, so they don't really help the environment in any way. I especially like it when car and gas commercials use images of automobiles driving by lush, open fields - sometimes with wind turbines in the background - evoking images of alternative sources of energy and overall "green"-ness. It all seems to be an oxymoron to me.

- Cassie H.

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Like some other people, I had never heard of the term greenwashing until this assignment came up. I have definately discussed the topic, but had never heard that term used to describe it before. From material that I read, the term is used to describe any organization, (government or private) that attempt to appear pro-environmental when their policies don't necessarily reflect that image. I found a great website that showed ways to detect greenwashing by an organization and why it is attractive to organizations to use it. One example of why an organization may engage in greenwashing would be to attract potential investors. It seems that one of the largest organizations fighting greenwashing is Greenpeace. Greenpeace has developed a website dedicated solely to deal with greenwashing today.

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Green or Greenwashing?

In The New Capitalists an article titled The Lords of Industry with a subtitle SOMETIMES THE BIG COMPANIES SURPRISE (and sometimes they don't) simply stated this titles dilemma. The article addresses how businesses claim to be "gallant" with green ways but then points out the "goofus" areas that apply to the company.
One such company addressed was General Electic and their "gallant" ways because they launched "ecomagination" that claims to double dollars in green technologies. Areas addressed are; diesel-electric hybrid locomotives and pledging greenhouse gas emission reduction by 1 percent. Sounds great, right! I think we would all agree that this action will do the environment good, however, lets look at what the article claims to be "goofus" for General Electric. General Electric is said to be one of the largest polluters and their movement was looked at with skepticism even among their senior managers due to the large footprint still looming. The example of that was the PCB's it once dumped in the New York's Hudson River.
Green or Greenwashing? You decide!

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GM Flex Fuel Greenwash

One of my favorite examples of green washing is General Motors use of Flex Fuel emblems on some of their cars. I don’t mean to pick on GM in particular but to me this seems to be the most obvious example. Right now without an extensive ethanol fuel network these cars get no better gas mileage than any other car on the road. There is also a concern over Bio-fuels and our food supply. Yet GM, and their fleet customers, get to drive around giving the impression that their cars are better for the environment than traditional gasoline powered vehicles.
The program itself is based on the use of E85 ethanol, a fuel made primarily from corn, while allowing customers to use gasoline. According to GM, the E85 ethanol blend uses a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gas. The flex fuel promotion uses a lot of green colors and gives the impression of a real alternative to gasoline. GM promotes E85 Ethanol, and its environmental benefits, in magazines and promotional events. This allows GM to hold up the 7 million Flex Fuel vehicles sold as an important environmental achievement, despite the fact that most people cannot buy E85 Ethanol.

Russel Arbuckle

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GM promotion covered in Truck Trend magazine

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Welcome to Fall 2008 Term!


Class, this is the right place. use the instructions in the class file under 'Getting Started" (Bullet point #4) to access the blog and begin making posts and changes. Be VERY careful on this blog, as this blog reflects the continuous efforts of over 5 terms. This is the blg we will use to help the orld come to understand the topic we are working on this term, 'Greenwashing.'


Rob Bremmer, Instructor

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