24 April 2009

What's 'Greenwashing'?

The Oxford definition is as follows:
greenwash: (n) Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image. Derivatives greenwashing (n). Origin from green on the pattern of whitewash. The Tenth Edition of the Concise Oxford English DictionaryThis is something akin to calling a car 'green' - and no car is completely green, as we know. Even some countries in the EU refuse to allow car companies to call their products green.

has a more interesting and comprehensive definition:
green*wash: (gr~en-wosh) -washers, -washing, -washed 1.) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty. 2) Environmental whitewash. 3) Any attempt to brainwash consumers or policy makers into believing polluting mega-corporations are the key to environmentally sound sustainable development 4) Hogwash. CorpWatch DefinitionSo, what is a consumer to do? Well, the first thing is to use our common sense. The second is to investigate claims made by companies such as: eco-friendly, green, natural - all valid adjectives and all subject to abuse unfortunately. There are even sites out there that rate claims, such as the Greenwashing Index, where you can find the good, bad and the ugly, see how others rate ads and claims, and rate them yourself.

When I am looking for an environmentally friendlier alternative for something and can't find a local source, I usually check out Real Goods to see what they have. It's a constant struggle to sift through what's real and what's not, but a worthwhile one at that.

Be real, be kind, be natural!

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