Greenwashing: What Is It?


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The term greenwashing first appeared in 1989 and is a contraction of the words green (environmentalist) and brainwashing. Since green products are one of the fastest growing markets in the country, some corporations may want to appear greener than they really are. As a result, they may change the name of product to make it sound more natural, or print “certified organic” on the label when it isn’t, or even claim association with a green group that doesn’t exist. Often this is all part of a carefully choreographed effort to attract new sales or new investors.

Look green, make green. Get it?

Caveat Emptor applies. Let the buyer beware. You have to read. Read the label and make sure that the ingredients are what you expected. Better yet, go to the website of the company for more information. And if you are still concerned, there are several websites that track greenwashing. One is run by the University of Oregon and the other by Green Peace.

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