Green Marketing 101: Watch for Greenwashing

  • May 31, 2012

Austin, Texas: Greenwashing has become so prevalent in advertising that many people stop believing most of what they read. This is good news for those marketers that are try to obfuscate the truth or those that tend to exaggerate their claims.

But for true green companies, greenwashing is a problem that must be addressed.

According to Wikipedia, the term Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on “whitewash”), or “green sheen” is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to support otherwise questionable aims.

Take the Hanes That I saw in an industry magazine the other day.

They call this T-shirt EcoSmart and shout “Sustainability at great everyday prices”. Sounds environmentally-friendly–right?

Unfortunately, below that sustainability claim, they mention that the shirt contains up to 5% polyester from recycled plastic.

Up to 5%!?!? .0001% is up to 5%. So is 1%. So is 2% ….

If you are going to make a green claim, substantiate it with facts and do not try to mislead.

Even if this shirt contained 5% recycled material, would it really be a green product?

One of the keys to green marketing is substantiating the claims.

Perhaps a link or QR code that takes you to more detailed information or an infographic about the recycling process.

Perhaps a short video of the recycling process.

But definitely a more honest approach then calling a product that has 5% or less of its contents made from recycled material and EcoSmart product.

A few bad apples does ruin it for green marketing and the entire green movement.

It is time to call major advertisers out on it when greenwashing is so blatant.

Let’s put truth back into marketing and advertising campaigns so companies can focus on truly becoming more sustainable and green friendly.

Let’s create real green brands and promote true green branding and eco marketing.

Happy promoting!

Here’s to a green tomorrow, today!

  • Category: greenwashing
  • Tags: eco marketing, false claims of being green, going green, green advertising campaigns, green branding, green marketing, promoting a green product