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The Seven Sins of Greenwashing – Sin #5

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

Well, I struggled with this sin. Not that I gave in (have never smoked, never had the desire to smoke), but that there were a couple of pictures I could have used. The lesser of two evils sin deals with making a claim that diverts your attention from the real problems. The picture I decided to use is that of a company that makes organic cigarettes. Really. Organic cigarettes.

And not only that, but the smoke screen (pun intended) continues because not only are these cigarettes organic (natural tastes better, after all), their tobacco has been grown “in a responsible, sustainable way through our earth-friendly and organic growing programs.” The ad goes on to list how they are reducing their “footprint on the earth by using recycled materials and renewable energy sources like wind power.” And, as ATIS547 from flickr (who posted the photo) added after their quote “protecting the earth is as important to us as it is to you” by saying “in other words, the earth is fine — it’s YOU we’d like to see dead.”

I used their picture because they seem to win the prize (at least in my book) for the most attempts at diversion. But I have to confess it was a close one between these cigarettes and the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid SUV.

The Tahoe hybrid gets an amazing 20 mpg in town (better than the 15 mpg of the standard Tahoe) and hauls up to eight people. My problem is I rarely see more than one or two people in most any SUV. And that’s where the issue arises for this sin: the increase in fuel economy actually diverts your attention from the real problem. And that is that most times, you don’t need an SUV for carting one or two people around.

So I guess I just want to point out that we should, once again, be very discerning in the ads that bombard us all the time. The cigarettes even have the disclaimer “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.” Oh, really?

And I’ll be the first to say if you regularly cart six or eight people around, the Chevy Tahoe hybrid might be a good choice for you. But if you’re like most of us who drive around with one (at most two) people in our vehicles, maybe a smaller car (or the bus…) might be a better option.

Don’t get sucked into the hype; stay focused on the real issues.

Next Post: Sin #6 – The Sin of Fibbing

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2 Responses so far.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ARBOR SOUTH, William Randall. William Randall said: #Greenwashing Sin #5: Anyone for an organic cigarette? http://ow.ly/3q1np […]

  2. […] and eco-friendly. It’s similar to the label on the “organic cigarettes” in my post regarding Sin #5 where they were actually honest in saying “No additives in our tobacco does […]