2012 Earth Day Greenwashing Hall of Shame

Everyone wants to ride the green wave all the way to the bank.  In the last 5 years, going green has been marketed, twisted, and gone corporate as folks consider just what it actually means.

Many companies have used their “natural” and “green” claims to confuse consumers and fool them into thinking they are making healthy and green choices.  According to Greenwashing Index, here is what greenwashing is:

“It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.”

This site is a fantastic resource about greenwashing and who does it.  A project by EnviroMedia Social Marketing in partnership with the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, the website rates ads in a range from being authentic to bogus, based on specific criteria.  Check out some of the recently submitted ads and you can rate them for greenwashing.

Here are a few examples of how greenwashing, especially around the upcoming Earth Day marketing push. Please add to this list!

1.  A number one greenwashing perpetrator is bottled water companies.  Pictures of flowing waterfalls, inspirational quotes about purity and nature, and blooming flowers decorate plastic bottles that hold bottled water.  Bottled water, no matter how packaged, is not remotely green or eco-friendly.  The water is not regulated, and many of the bottles end up in the trash, and ultimately in our oceans, roadsides, and habitats.

Here is an example of a recent exhibit from Fiji bottled water that screams greenwashing.  Instead of buying bottled water, grab some stainless steel reusable water bottles and fill them with tap water!

2.  Check out the outrageous Earth Day sponsor greenwashing video above from our friends at the Rainforest Action Network.  So funny, and so ridiculous it is hard to believe you aren’t watching the Daily Show!

3.  Not So Earth Day Toys, made in China, and packaged in plastic:

Oh, yes.  Here you can find a Hot Wheels Earth Day car!  Packaged in plastic and slapped with an Earth Day label, there is nothing eco-friendly about this car.

At Oriental Trading, there are lots of wasteful Earth themed party favors, made from plastic, destined for the trash, and created from unsafe and unsustainable materials.  Don’t be fooled!

Here are some actual green toys made from recycled, non-toxic materials instead. Ugh.  What’s next, The Lorax pushing SUVs?

4. Celebrate Earth Day, eat cereal with loads of sugar and artificial food colorings!

While I encourage Kellog’s to improve their sustainability practices, and the healthfulness of their products, I can’t see how exactly they are doing this at their Earth Day website.  I do see a large advertisement for their cereals, which contain an offensive amount of sugar and behavior altering artificial food colorings– all contributing to obesity and learning problems in children—but, you can get a free reusable bag!

What have you seen in this pre-Earth Day 2012 season that smacks of greenwashing??  Please post a comment and we can look for real and meaningful actions to help the earth.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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