The above video clip acts as a commentary on the practice of greenwashing. It begins to interact with the idea that consumers are being led down a certain path when it comes to their thinking around the environment and being ecologically responsible. Greenwashing is the term “used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service” (Greenpeace, n.d).
It is often found that the terms ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ are often seen as synonymous, and that ‘being green’ is the answer to being sustainable. While one cannot argue that environmental impact, and concern, isn’t of high importance when it comes to the issue of sustainability; one also has to understand that the environmental issue is not the only (societal) impact needing to be addressed.
Greenwashing is a practice or tool that severely impacts a movement toward real environmental sustainability. As discussed by Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff video (which can be viewed in an earlier post) the mass-consumption of ‘things’ at a societal level is driving the world into crisis mode. As a population, we are significantly impacting the planet’s ability to sustain life, and for as long as we buy into corporate and media greenwashing, true environmental sustainability is unattainable.
Visit the Sins of Greenwashing website for an insight into the so-called ‘Seven Sins of Green Washing’ (http://sinsofgreenwashing.org). According to the website the seven sins read:
1. The “sin of hidden trade off”
This is the claim that conveys the product as an environmentally friendly product “based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues,”
2. The “sin of no proof”
This involves claims of environmental friendliness (or ‘green-ness’) that cannot be substantiated adequately.
3. The “sin of vagueness”
This refers to a “poorly defined or broad” claim that can lead to consumer confusion or a misunderstanding.
4. The “sin of worshipping false labels”
This refers to the use of “fake labels” as a way to “give the impression of third-party endorsement,” when in reality there is no such third party or the endorsement does not exist.
5. The “sin of irrelevance”
This is a ‘green’ “claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable product.” The website makes use of the example of products that claim ‘CFC-Free’ even though “CFCs are banned by law.”
6. The “sin of the lesser of two evils”
This sin distracts “the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the [product] category as a whole.”
7. The “sin of fibbing”
In other words, telling lies; particularly around ‘green-ness’ and ‘green’ attributes. (The Seven Sins, n.d)
Read more by clicking on the link (http://sinsofgreenwashing.org). You can also download their greenwashing report which provides interesting statistics relating to greenwashing.