Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding a company’s environmental practices or a product’s benefits to the environment. Here are the results of Terra Choice‘s study of environmental claims in North America. They identified 6 sins of greenwashing:
- Hidden trade-off: advertising a product as green based on a single attribute e.g. using recycled paper without paying attention to other manufacturing impacts.
- No-proof: No evidence or certification e.g. no evidence to support a claim of beauty products not having been tested on animals.
- Irrelevance: Claiming that a product has no chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to deplete the ozone layer when in fact CFCs have been banned for 30 years.
- Vagueness: Poorly defined claims such as “all natural”, “non-toxic”, “chemical free” or simply, “green”, again without supporting evidence.
- Lesser of two evils: Green insecticides or organic cigarettes. The product may be green but using it should be discouraged in the first place.
- Fibbing: Outright lying about a product’s environmental impact.