Greenwash

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 10:19 AM

Greenwash is a term used to describe companies that deceive their customers to believe the companies are environmental friendly when they actually not.

One common case often being referred to is the bush Administration's clear Skies Initiative, which many have argued that it actually weakens air pollution laws.

As people are more and more aware of the environmental protection, the buzz word, "Green", has become famous. Most businesses, even schools, are trying to get a share in it to attract more customers. For example, "Green Apple" (Apple, Inc.) or "Green PSU". However, by putting on "Green" on their products, does it autometically mean that they are environmental friendly? Apparently not! Many products many claim to be friendly to the environment regards to the ingredients they use; however, how they produce the products maybe very harmful to earth.

Such deceptions are all over businesses. One example I have found is Kleenex producer Kimberly-Clark, which was "named an EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year due to its 'ongoing efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its operations.'" Yet, "it seems strange that a company which cuts down 200-year old greenhouse gas-absorbing trees should be praised for its reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. And if Kimberly-Clark can take the time to use sustainable energy, why can't it use sustainable resources--i.e. recycled fiber? Because as we recently learned, soft, fluffy recycled tissues are possible." (By Fast Company, for detail information, click here.)

It seems it would be difficult for customers to know the insight of what's really going on with companies. Customers rely on organizations to be ethical and honest about their products and what they have to offer. Other than that, customers can only rely on the media to inform them the truth, which sometimes can be deceiving as well.

Happily, April 2, 2009, the Australian Association of National Advertisers passed its Environmental Claims Advertising and Marketing Code. In the article, No Greenwash, Please - Industry Introduces Its Own Codes, Lee stated that "advertisers will no longer be able to use images of nature and call themselves "environmentally friendly" unless they can back up any green claims under new proposals put forward by the advertising industry. The new self-regulatory green marketing code - thought to be the first of its kind in the world - will also prevent companies from passing off a mandated environmental initiative as something it has voluntarily adopted. Advertisers will have to prove that the benefits to the environment are "significant" too." (For more information, click here.) Even though, we all know that advertising is deceiving, there are many customers still tend to buy in their words. Hence, with this code being introduced, customers can be protected from greenwash companies.

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