Greenwash and the Top Greenwashers

Greenwash, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”

I’m disappointed to see Ford Motor Co at the top of the list. Ford enlisted William McDonough to renovate the Rouge Center manufacturing plant, which could be a break-through example of large-scale cradle-to-cradle design in an industrial setting. I’d like to see Bill Ford get some credit for starting to change Ford into a greener company. Of course, the PR and marketing people at Ford will use the Ford Hybrid SUV and the Rouge Plant to improve Ford’s green image. And Ford, like GM, has a long way to go to catch the market leaders Toyota and Honda.

The Green Life website describing greenwashing and the top 10 practitioners in the US:

Dealing in lies of omission, image ads belong to a business strategy known as greenwash.

In addition to image ads, greenwash encompasses misleading product labels such as “all natural,” “biodegradable” and other vague descriptions used entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer, as well as improper applications of terms, for example, “organic” and “free range,” which are meaningful regarding certain products but unreliable with others.

Greenwash also covers a range of public relations tactics: front groups feigning public support for hidden anti-environmental agendas; scientists-for-hire who vouch for industry-funded research; sustainability reports offering partial disclosure and spotty transparency; hollow mission statements and codes of conduct; contributions to innocuous nonprofits; community advisory panels that have access without influence; and sponsorship of Earth Day events, where local industry plays host to the peoplr it poisons.

Greenwash fools progressive consumers into supporting the economy’s unsustainable status quo; lures investors who link positive environmental performance with profitable financial performance; and misleads policy makers charged with designing and enforcing environmental regulations.

America’s Ten Worst Greenwashers are:

1. Ford Motor Company
2. BP
3. United States Forest Service
4. ChevronTexaco
5. General Motors
6. Nuclear Energy Institute
7. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
8. TruGreen ChemLawn
9. Xcel Energy
10. National Ski Areas Association

Source: The Green Life: Publications: Don’t Be Fooled