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The Seven Sins of Greenwashing – Sin #4

Greenwashing is “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

By now, you can probably see there is a lot of overlap in these sins. As I have been relating the sins and some examples, I’m finding things like vagueness and irrelevance and no proof have a lot of commonalities. The Sin of Irrelevance is “committed by making an environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products.”

The example the TerraChoice studies use is that of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs have been shown to deplete the ozone layer and as such have been heavily regulated sine the 1970s. And, in 1978, the United States banned the use of CFCs in aerosol cans. Yet, some aerosol cans still carry a label “CFC-Free”. Totally irrelevant and completely misleading. I liken it to advertising a new car as having seat belts for all seats. Wow. I’m underwhelmed.

“All natural” is another term that is really, totally meaningless from an environmental standpoint. And I say that because the following are “natural” products: arsenic, uranium and formaldehyde. So just because something is natural, that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. By the way, formaldehyde also qualifies as “organic.”

I have also learned that everything, in improper quantities can actually be poison to us. Water, necessary to life, in the wrong quantity can poison us. It’s called “water intoxication” and is basically the opposite of dehydration. And very small quantities of certain chemicals can be beneficial. An example would be medicines. So we have to be careful making blanket statements.

And we have to be aware of statements that ultimately have no meaning. The proliferation of green products and the subsequent marketing related to selling those to us, should put us, the consumer/purchaser/user on a heightened level of awareness. We have as much responsibility as anyone to verify statements and sort through irrelevant and meaningless claims.

So be careful, be informed and be aware.

Next Post: Sin #5 – The Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

3 Responses so far.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ARBOR SOUTH, William Randall. William Randall said: #Greenwashing Sin #4: How irrelevant can we be? http://ow.ly/3okMZ […]

  2. Hey thanks for yet another nice and interesting post. Where do you find your inspiration for all this :|? – Sportster exhaust

    • bill RANDALL says:

      You’re welcome! I get my inspiration from a lot of places. Reading the news online (newsprint ink makes me itch), riding the bus (I’ve met some fascinating people there), and generally just trying to be observant wherever I go. Glad you’re enjoying my posts!