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Is greenwashing a good thing?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

On Huddler, we have talked quite a bit about greenwashing (whether it be how to identify it or how NASCAR may be doing it).

 

But is it necessarily bad?

 

This comes from Triple Pundit:

 

Is greenwashing really a disinformation campaign by corporations trying to win over the conscious consumer? Or is it just part of the "growing pains" of becoming a sustainable company? Joel Makower, of Greenbiz.com, thinks it's the latter. He writes,


"The rise of green marketing claims is a testament to how quickly being seen as green has become of importance to companies. Isn't that what all of us wanted to see happen?" 

 

What do you think?  Is it bad?  Or perhaps just a step on the way to true green?

post #2 of 6

That greenwashing exists is a good sign for the environmental movement, because it means being green is becoming important to consumers.

 

However, greenwashing itself is clearly a bad thing.  When a consumer buys a product which he believes is better for the environment and later finds out was just a case of greenwashing, it's disillusioning.  People then become less likely to buy green products for fear of falling prey to the greenwashing illusion again.  A couple of recent studies have shown that consumer confidence in and willingness to pay more for green products is declining.

 

"According to a green survey from Rackspace Hosting (PDF), 44 percent of respondents are willing to pay more for green products and services this year; down significantly from the 59 percent of respondents that were willing to pay more last year.

“It’s interesting to see that customers still think green is very important, but today they may be less willing to pay more or trade performance for lower carbon emissions."

 

"The problem, he said, occurs when marketers make exaggerated claims about a product's attributes, which may be fine when selling toothpaste or vacations. Most people probably know that the toothpaste won't actually make their teeth sparkle or help them get the girl, but they play along with the joke. But when an advertiser says its product will actually ''improve the environment,'' or some variation on that theme, savvy consumers recoil, Lawrence said, knowing that, in all likelihood, what is actually meant is that the product is only less bad for the environment than it could be, or than competing goods. ''This can really backfire with environmental advertising,'' Lawrence said."

 

So I think greenwashing, while indicative of the strength of the movement, itself is bad.

post #3 of 6

I think it just gives people a false sense of action.

 

I worry that people will buy a greenwashed product, and then feel that they are doing their part, so why should they bother doing the things that actually make a difference.

post #4 of 6

 totally hear your point, kiwi.  but the other possible outcome of people buying even a greenwashed eco-friendly product is that it will get their proverbial foot-in-the-door vis a vis green shopping...and ultimately encourage them to continue down that path. 

 

i guess i feel like greenwashing is more of a natural "growing pain," and i hope that it is more reflective of consumers' increasing desire to participate in the green movement (because demand encourages large corps to manufacture green products) as opposed to a factor that will ultimately dissuade participation.


Edited by lola - Thu, 17 Jul 2008 00:52:52 GMT
post #5 of 6

Yeah I know what you mean.

 

One factor for me is whether we are talking about if a company is producing a greener product than they usually would, or producing a product that has absolutely no environmental benefits.

 

Does making a lotion without SLS make it green?

post #6 of 6

Making a product without SLS makes it less likey to have a bad reaction with various essential oils that you may be using. That makes it better for you if you're using essential oils or products containing essential oils.

 

Does it make it green? well I guess it depends on your definition of green...

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