What You Ought To Know About Greenwashing

By Anthony K

Greenwashing is a form of marketing using key words, colors, and excellent P.R. to persuade consumers that an organization or business is environmentally friendly. Greenwashing and feeble regulations may encourage consumer cynicism toward genuine green claims. More companies are adopting greenwashing to meet the demand for environmentally-friendly goods and services.

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Terrachoice identifies seven signs of greenwashing, including irrelevance, worshipping false labels, vagueness, no proof, hidden trade-offs, lesser of two evils, and fibbing. Greenwashing practices may include changing a product’s name or label or launching expensive campaigns portraying highly-polluting energy companies as environmentally friendly.

British Petroleum was declared guilty of greenwashing after launching a rebranding campaign modifying its acronym to ‘Beyond Petroleum.’ The company spent millions to revise the logo, launch advertisements, popularize the clean energy rhetoric across media, and establish a solar-paneled gas station in Los Angeles to earn recognition as the greenest global oil company.

Greenwashing may affect consumer behavior and choices as more clients seek environmentally friendly goods and services. Consumer perceptions are linked to the level of greenwashing one is exposed to or previous interactions with a specific brand. Eradicating greenwashing may be an uphill task because consumers ignore greenwashed advertisements.

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Some environmentally friendly organizations have upped the initiative of exposing greenwashing practices to reduce its impacts. The University of Oregon partnered with EnviroMedia Social Marketing to create a Greenwashing Index allowing the public to upload and scale greenwashing.

Countries have different regulations governing greenwashing with hopes of squashing it and protecting consumers from unscrupulous practices. More research is also underway to help relevant stakeholders identify emerging trends in greenwashing and green scamming.