Greenwashing and How to Avoid It

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is used to mislead consumers into believing what they are paying for is safe for consumption and even protective towards the environment.  Effectively, they are painting over something that is not environmentally-friendly with environmentally conscious (green) paint.

Many times, the product is actually doing considerably more harm than good.  The companies who invest significant amounts of money in marketing and green paint tend to be the very same companies that are polluting the water we drink and the air we breathe.

One example I saw a few weeks ago is this Chevron commercial from 1980.  Most of us do not think of Chevron when we are thinking about eco-friendly, but after this commercial, people survived did respond saying Chevron was eco-friendly.

These days, greenwashing is becoming fairly subtle.  Many times commercials of not so natural products (such as sodas and skin care products with way more chemicals than you would ever want near you) will be displayed with green grassy fields.  This implies the product is natural to the environment and therefore healthy for you and the Earth.

Another example is the sign in many hotel bathrooms where they request you hang your towels and reuse them to help them save the environment.  This is likely just a tactic to save money on their water bill.

Organic Food Takes the Cake

We have all heard that organic crops are healthier, tastier, and better for the planet. Unfortunately, studies show that these claims are overwhelmingly blown out of proportion if not completely false.

For example, organic farms take up significantly more land than conventional ones, which means it might even be worse than conventional farming.

This does not mean organic food is terrible for the environment, but it is important to look at both sides as well as realize that other choices could make an even greater impact.  Buying local, decreasing meat consumption, and not wasting food might be better ways to go.

Do Your Research


People are becoming more conscious of their choices and their effects on the world.  It is not enough to believe what the advertisements and the media tell us.

Many times it can be as easy as scanning the packaging of products.  There is often this handy dandy Ecolabel on the product.  They are different by region and product, but a quick search will tell you if the label is reliable.

Let me know if you think this is a problem or am I blowing it out of proportion?  What other examples of greenwashing have you seen?