Everybody has seen them, those television advertisements for oil companies touting their green credentials. You know, “Beyond Petroleum,” etc. Or maybe you’ve seen the bottled water company claims that their plastic throwaway bottles are now “green” because they have a new shape. Some critics have begun calling this type of advertising “greenwashing,” which can be defined as: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.
Newsweek compiled a list of four websites that consumers can use to research the validity of a company’s green claims:
However, an important distinction should be made between companies that shroud themselves in a green cloak, in order to derive positive brand benefits that they have not justifiably earned, and companies that merely announce the fact that they have done certain things that will help the environment. Granted it is a fine line between greenwashing and fair marketing of a positive action by a company. In determining the difference, it is useful to quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous method he used to determine the difference between legal art and illegal pornography, stating, “I know it when I see it.” We suggest Greenwashing can be spotted using the same test.