The Greenwash Concept

The Greenwash Concept

Greenwash: noun

[MASS NOUN]

Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image: while they can be useful, these sorts of standards are sometimes used quite cynically—as corporate greenwash

Derivatives [noun] greenwashing[1]

The concept of greenwashing was first spotted during 1960’s when the companies started to create the concept of the environmental friendly industry. Later on in 1970, when the First Earth Day was held on April 22, the companies were encouraged to used advertisements which stated freely that their business are environmental friendly.

The most well know deceiving campaign in the history is Chevron’s campaign, “People Do” in 1985. Studies had shown that Chevron reached the performance of making California to trust them more in matter of environmental responsibility. Another study from 1991 shows that almost 60% of the eco-friendly adverts have at least one lie in their message.

In 1980 the concept got not even popular but also well contoured. The first example of the usage of the actual term is in Jay Westervelt’s essay about how hotels sustained the reusable towels in order to “save the environment” even though there were no evidence that they did so.

Here are some of the greenwash international regulations:

Australia

The Australian Trade Practices Act has been modified to include punishment of companies that provide misleading environmental claims. Any organization found guilty of such could face up $1.1 million in fines. In addition, the guilty party must pay for all expenses incurred while setting the record straight about their product or company’s actual environmental impact.[22]

Canada

Canada’s Competition Bureau along with the Canadian Standards Association are discouraging companies from making “vague claims” towards their products’ environmental impact. Any claims must be backed up by “readily available data.”[22]

Norway

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. [2]

Now day the greenwash concept is still encountered and has media coverage all over the planet, there is even a website where I could found top 25 products and services that are the most greenwashed in USA (at least ) [i]. Some of them are still the same and I wonder why. It is not like we don’t know about them, excluding the fact that there is a top 25 on this issue. But why they still do it? And where are the upper mentioned regulations at?Screenshot 2015-04-08 21.45.57

I found tons of website dedicated to the eradication of the greenwash in the industry, packed with easy to read information, petitions and sections where you can show what campaign or ad is greenwashing a product.

What it is worth to mention is that I spent some time on these websites and half of them have only and about page and when I tried to accesses the button to the place where I could post an ad I received and message of error.Screenshot 2015-04-08 21.45.35

Greenwashing is a big problem for the future society even though we have now the solutions. But if we do not apply the solution as soon as possible it may be too late for everyone.

Brands like Nike, Adidas, Zara and many others, using cheap labor in Taiwan and Indonesia and also polluting there trick the law and greenwash every piece of clothing they produce. And not to mention the extreme pollution in the rivers of Chin, where water turned rainbow colors, fished died and algae killed any other life form.

The solutions to this ecological disaster are not as simple as petition type websites because governments don’t have global power and mostly because words just raise awareness but are not a solution.

I call for a rebellion. Let us stop buy just for one week any international brand and demonstrate them that we all know what they try to cover in their back yard and show them that people have the power. Sure, this may not be a solution, but it may be a trigger.

I also recommend you to try to buy only local products or at least products that are produced in your country perimeters. I am curious what will happen. We all know that central Asian countries already do that, lets see what happens if we do the same thing for only few months.

I strongly sustain the anti greenwashing movement from a moral point of view and also a practical point of view. I try to buy as less as possible products that are not indigene and as few as possible branded clothes.

[1] British & World English. Greenwash.  Oxford Dictionaries. Accessed on April 8 2015 http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/greenwash

[2] Greenwashing. Wikipedia. Page was last modified on 19 March 2015, at 07:25, Accessed April 8, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwashing

[i] http://www.businesspundit.com/the-top-25-greenwashed-products-in-america/

 

Maria Korodi here, have a nice day!

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