November 16, 2018

Greenwashing



Doesn't anyone tell the truth any more? Is integrity an old fashioned concept that is good in theory, but not practical (or profitable) in commerce? 

For example, in 2010 thousands of "green" consumer products sold in North America were surveyed. 95% of those products were found to be guilty of greenwashing. Green is the new black. That is because greenwashing gets you greenbacks.

Greenwashing is defined as "disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image". Unsurprisingly, such disinformation began shortly after environmentalism did.


However, advertisers are using fewer "facts" about their products all the time, because they know that outright lies might get them in trouble. If they are caught. And they are rarely caught, or can operate for years before they are held to task.

Knowing that, advertisers have moved on to the even more subversive task of targeting your subconscious. Neuromarketers have discovered that a large part of consumer's decisions to buy stuff happens at a level we are not even aware of. 


An example of subconscious greenwashing would be something as simple as using green packaging. Those of us that feel deeply about the state of the environment are particularly prone to falling for this simple and subtle trick.

Because we associate green with the environment, our subconscious leads us to decide that something that comes in green packaging is likely good for the Earth. Pictures of trees and flowers work, too. 

Sometimes our subconscious is wrong.Because they just can't resist the easy profits that result, advertisers still resort to straight out, old fashioned lies to trick us into buying their green dipped products. 

 Here are just a couple of examples:
- car manufacturers, such as Volkswagen or Mercedes-Benz advertising their cars as "clean diesel" and "Earth-friendly". The Mercedes diesel cars emit 65 times the green house gas as allowed by the EPA. 
 
- the "Rainforest Alliance Certified" sticker you may see on products like bananas, coffee, tea and others, may not get any better than the green colour of the label.

Spot checks reveal that some certified farms spray crops near schools and waterways with toxic chemicals. They have also been sued for their misleading claims. 
Assume that any ad you see or hear is an outright lie, and proceed with extreme caution. online before believing any advertising claim.    
Think about any claims that are being made, and ask yourself if they seem reasonable. A eco-friendly cigarette, or car, or chemical? Not likely. 
Even better, make it a habit to not buy anything that is advertised. 
Support local producers and small businesses that have small or non-existent advertising budgets. They are more likely to pay more than lip service to truth and integrity while dealing with their customers.

5 comments:

  1. We were at a local farmers market where someone was selling organic huckleberries at a higher price than another stall. Well these berries cannot be cultivated and only grow in frost pockets out in the woods, so how can one be organic and one not?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11/18/2018

    Hi Gregg, I fell for this greenwashing a few times when it started. Case in point, bamboo underwear. Websites rave on and on about how renewable it is and how it doesn't need to be sprayed like cotton. They just omit the fact that to make the bamboo into a soft fibre it needs to be doused in lots of nasty chemicals! And the fact that the dyes poison the water ways and the wearer. But other than that, it's very 'green'!

    The way to keep safe is to follow your blog title and don't buy anything! If you have to buy something go for second hand, or think through how a product would be made if it were truly green, then look for that whilst overlooking advertising. Oh, and one big online company based in the US uses old people as slave labour to get it's products to you ASAP (because we are like two year olds who cannot wait). Shopping is a risky business best avoided where possible!

    Madeleine

    ReplyDelete
  3. The laws and standards for "organic" food have been reduced to allow the big food growers to cash in on the higher profit from organic food. I don't buy as much "organic" food as I used to simply because I can't trust if it's truly organic by the old more stringent standards or not. My suspicion is it is is not organic.

    It is really hard to find companies with integrity. The bigger they get, the more they lie. I met someone one time and he had a business bailing companies that get caught lying. He was hired to go on TV and respond to print media questions regarding what the company was being called out on. His mission was to paint a picture of the company where they were not harmed by the bad publicity of lying! He was the smoother-over-er guy.

    One thing for certain this blog consistently reports the truth. I love it here and sure have missed everyone.

    Terri

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous11/22/2018

    Terri, I always miss you when you don't comment for a while and wonder how you are doing. We are lucky to have found a meeting place that 'consistently reports the truth.'

    Madeleine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think of you too Madeleine. I find much wisdom and inspiration when you share. This is a mighty good place for us to meet, share and support. Thanks friend.

      Delete

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