Learn How to Spot Green Washing

Some businesses claim to be environmentally friendly yet in fact they are not. This is called green washing. It can be done by using clever slogans, images of nature, making false claims or simply by changing the company name to one that sound like the environment is their prime concern.

One example of a company changing their name is BP. They used to be called British Petroleum but since their Deepwater Horizon oil spill released millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico they changed their name to one that sounds green, Beyond Petroleum. 

Not So Green Companies

Thousands of companies are green and genuinely care about the environment. They produce a wide array of products from household cleaning products to solar panels. 

Green companies can be difficult to spot because of all the false claims that bombard our lives and cloud the picture. It is not uncommon for genuinely green businesses to not make any claims at all. For this reason green claims should be looked at closely.

Looking at a product’s life cycle will help determine if it is green. For example, a company’s client billing department may claim to be green because they use recycled paper. If the company then simply throws out used paper rather than have it recycled back into the system, that would not be green. They would promote the fact that they use green paper while they still contribute to landfill waste.

Unfortunately green certification has been abused by many companies. Some green certifications are not enforced or are invented by a marketing company. There are places where for a fee a business can get a green badge claiming they are green and ethical. It is wise to check the awarding body of certifications.

Spotting Green Washing

The most common green washing practice is similar to observing the product line. A company with business writing training will hype one environmental benefit that they practice to draw attention away from polluting practices. 

Watch for out-right lies. One good example is when a dishwasher detergent claimed that it was packaged in 100-percent recycled paper when in reality the container was made of plastic. 

Cleaver titles can draw attention away from the actual practice of business. An example of this is “clean coal.” While we know that coal is not clean, just hearing the word clean next to coal seems to cancel out the negative. 

It can be difficult to know which companies are green washing and which are not. Gent involved in green organizations that have the resources to investigate green washing. Promote and buy from green companies to keep the momentum going in the right direction.

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Chris Keenan is a green and general blog writer. Chris also maintains a personal cooking blog .

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